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International Healthcare News: Study finds place of birth has little impact on risks

Pregnant expatriate health insurance customers may wish to choose where they give birth, following the results of a new study.

The research, published on bmj.com and conducted on behalf of the Birthplace in England Collaborative Group by a team led by Professor Peter Brocklehurst from the University of Oxford, indicated low-risk expectant women should be able to have discussions with medical experts about where they wish to have their child.

Although home births are related with a higher likelihood of adverse occurrences, in all settings the overall danger is still very low, the study found.

Problems such as faeces in the lungs (meconium aspiration syndrome), brain injury (encephalopathy), stillbirth, early child deaths and injuries to the arm or shoulder were some of the "serious adverse outcomes" detailed in the report.

First-time mums who had home births had a higher likelihood of these issues occurring (9.3 per 1,000 children) when compared with labour in an obstetric unit, but among women who had already had one child, there were no significant variations discovered.

The average risk of danger was 4.3 per 1,000 births.

A cost-effectiveness analysis is currently being performed and the researchers admitted more investigations on the impact service configuration and staffing have on birth outcomes is needed.

Interventions such as epidurals, caesarean sections and forceps deliveries were considerably higher in obstetric departments than in all other settings, the investigation also revealed.

"These results will enable women and their partners to have informed discussions with health professionals in relation to clinical outcomes and planned place of birth," the study authors stated.

"For policy makers, the results are important to inform decisions about service provision and commissioning," they added.

Pregnant women may also want to engage in moderate exercise, as founder of Penelope Fitstar Louise Whyte recently claimed this can make them "fitter and stronger" in preparation for childbirth.

However, they must not work out to exhaustion and should listen to their bodies, she declared.

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