Several news articles covered a recent study released by the US Centers for Disease Control on May 20, 2011, which showed that home births have increased 20 percent from 2004 to 2008. The study notes that this increase occurred after a steady decline in home births between the years 1990 and 2004.
According to the study, in 2008, there were 28,357 home births in the United States. The study reported that the largest increase was in white women who were predominantly college educated and between 30 and 40 years of age. In a May 20, 2011, CNN article on the subject, study lead author, Marian F. MacDorman of the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that home births were at their highest level since 1990.
The CNN article quoted her as saying, "Women may prefer a home over a hospital birth for a variety of reasons including a desire for a low intervention birth in a familiar environment surrounded by family and friends," MacDorman said. "Cultural or religious concerns, lack of transportation in rural areas and cost factors may also play a role as total costs for home births are about 1/3 those for a hospital birth."
Although there was a 20 percent increase in home births, the rates still remain relatively low with only 0.56 percent of births being at home in 2004, and increased to only 0.67 percent by 2008. In a May 20, 2011, Health News article lead study author, Marian MacDorman speculated about why there was such a wide difference in home births between white women and other ethicalities by saying, "I think there's more of a natural birth subculture going on with white women - an interest in a low-intervention birth in a familiar setting".
In a WebMD article on the same day, MacDorman explained that some of the increase may be due to a fear of medical intervention. She explained, "For example, a lot of concern about the rising C-section rate, rising medical interventions, induction of labor, episiotomy, and so forth. I think there's a certain group of women who maybe feel nervous about going to the hospital and maybe having a C-section they didn't want or something like that."
In the same WebMD article, Aaron Caughey, MD, PhD, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the center for women's health at Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland chimed in and agreed. "There is currently a cesarean epidemic in the United States." Caughey noted that in 1996, 21 percent of births were C-sections, but by 2009, the number was 32 percent, representing a 50 percent increase, "making cesarean delivery the most common surgery that a woman under the age of 50 will have."