Introduction: Over the last decade, planned home births in the United States (US) have increased, and have been associated with increased neonatal mortality and other morbidities. In a previous study we reported that neonatal mortality is increased in planned home births but we did not perform an analysis for the presence of professional certification status.
Purpose: The objective of this study therefore was to undertake an analysis to determine whether the professional certification status of midwives or the home birth setting are more closely associated with the increased neonatal mortality of planned midwife-attended home births in the United States.
Materials and methods: This study is a secondary analysis of our prior study. The 2006-2009 period linked birth/infant deaths data set was analyzed to examine total neonatal deaths (deaths less than 28 days of life) in term singleton births (37+ weeks and newborn weight ≥ 2,500 grams) without documented congenital malformations by certification status of the midwife: certified nurse midwives (CNM), nurse midwives certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board, and "other" or uncertified midwives who are not certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Results: Neonatal mortality rates in hospital births attended by certified midwives were significantly lower (3.2/10,000, RR 0.33 95% CI 0.21-0.53) than home births attended by certified midwives (NNM: 10.0/10,000; RR 1) and uncertified midwives (13.7/10,000; RR 1.41 [95% CI, 0.83-2.38]). The difference in neonatal mortality between certified and uncertified midwives at home births did not reach statistical levels (10.0/10,000 births versus 13.7/10,000 births p = 0.2).
Conclusions: This study confirms that when compared to midwife-attended hospital births, neonatal mortality rates at home births are significantly increased. While NNM was increased in planned homebirths attended by uncertified midwives when compared to certified midwives, this difference was not statistically significant. Neonatal mortality rates at home births were not significantly different in relationship to professional certification status of the birth attendant, whether the delivery was by a certified or an uncertified birth attendant.