The study, conducted by researchers between 2008 and 2012, examined 15.9 million infants born in the United States to determine what factors contribute to neonatal deaths.
All infants of the analysis were carried to full term and were delivered at a normal weight for a newborn.
According to researchers, there was a mortality rate of around 5.8 infants for every 10,000 deliveries. This mortality rate included infants born alive but died within 27 days of being delivered. Also, the study found half of the deaths involved birth defects.
Among the deliveries that were home births assisted by a midwife, 39 percent of infant deaths were linked to complications with labor and delivery, 30 percent were linked to birth defects, and 12 percent were linked to infections.
Neonatal deaths that occurred during home births were mainly due to situations that resulted in brain damage. The brain damage can be caused by complications such as suffocation or oxygen deprivation to the brain.
The findings of the study suggest that a home birth assisted by a midwife may not have the same training as would be available in a hospital setting. Safe midwife delivery can be achieved if done in a hospital setting.
The study, however, is limited by the fact that data from deliveries that started at a home birth, but then transferred to a hospital are not included. If this type of delivery resulted in an infant death, then it would be attributed to a hospital fatality. This could underestimate the risk associated with home births according to researchers.
Another factor that could limit the study is that researchers do not know why women may prefer a home birth over one at the hospital.
In the end, planned home births can result in a successful birth with a properly trained midwife, but for women who may face certain medical conditions or complications, a hospital birth may be the safest option.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of infant deaths are the following: