The percentage of out-of-hospital births is on the rise, after spending the prior century largely in decline or stagnant.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that since 2004 the rate of out-of-hospital births has been increasing from 0.87 percent of U.S. births to 1.36 percent in 2012.
“In 1900, almost all U.S. births occurred outside a hospital; however the proportion of out-of-hospital births fell to 44% by 1940 and to 1% by 1969, where it remained through the 1980s. Although out-of-hospital births are still rare in the United States, they have been increasing recently,” the report reads. “If this increase continues, it has the potential to affect patterns of facility usage, clinician training, and resource allocation, as well as health care costs.”
Non-Hispanic white women were the most likely to give birth out of a hospital with 2.05 percent doing so in 2012. By comparison, in 2012, just 0.49 percent of births to non-Hispanic black women were outside of a hospital, 0.46 percent were to Hispanic women, 0.81 percent were to American Indian women, and 0.54 percent were to Asian or Pacific Islander women.
Out-of-hospital births were generally concentrated in northwestern states like Alaska, where 6 percent were out-of-hospital, Montana (3.9 percent), Oregon (3.8 percent), Washington (3.4 percent), and Idaho (3.4 percent). The lowest percentage, less than one percent of out of hospital births, were in southeastern states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Out of hospital, in large measure, currently means at home. In 2012, 66 percent of out-of-hospital births occurred at home. Twenty-nine percent of out-of-hospital-births happened at birthing centers and the remaining 5 percent occurred in a clinic or doctor’s office.
The percentage of home births has also been increasing since 2004 when they comprised .56 percent of births, to 2012 when they comprised 0.89 percent of births.
According to the CDC most of the out-of-hospital births were planned and the risk profile is lower than hospital births.