Objective: The aim of this population-based study was to measure the risk of adverse outcome for mother and child in planned home births in a Swedish population irrespective of where the birth actually occurred, at home or in hospital after transfer.
Design: A population-based study using data from the Swedish Medical Birth Register.
Setting: Sweden 1992-2004.
Participants: A total of 897 planned home births were compared with a randomly selected group of 11,341 planned hospital births.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of mortality and morbidity among mothers and children, emergency conditions, instrumental and operative delivery and perineal lacerations were compared.
Results: During this period in Sweden the neonatal mortality rate was 2.2 per thousand in the home birth group and 0.7 in the hospital group (RR 3.6, 95% CI 0.2-14.7). No cases of emergency complications were found in the home birth group. The risk of having a sphincter rupture was lower in the planned home birth group (RR 0.2, 95% CI 0.0-0.7). The risk of having a cesarean section (RR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.7) or instrumental delivery (RR 0.3, 95% CI 0.2-0.5) was significantly lower in the planned home birth group.
Conclusion: In Sweden, between 1992 and 2004, the intrapartum and neonatal mortality in planned home births was 2.2 per thousand. The proportion is higher compared to hospital births but no statistically significant difference was found. Women in the home birth group more often experienced a spontaneous birth without medical intervention and were less likely to sustain pelvic floor injuries.