Research comparisons that do not reflect the Australian setting are not helpful to women

16 May 2018

Media Release

A recent article promoting research that suggests the place of birth has no significant impact on infant mortality for low-risk pregnancies is irrelevant to the Australian context.

“Such a conclusion makes it difficult for women to make the best decision about their maternity care and just isn’t relevant to the Australian setting,” cautions RANZCOG President, Professor Steve Robson. “The authors compare apples with oranges.”

RANZCOG supports women having the tools to be able to make informed decisions about all aspect of their maternity care. This is best facilitated by conversations with an attending clinician as well as resources and information backed by evidence that is applicable to the Australian health environment.

The largest figures in this research group’s meta-analysis come from the Netherlands and the second largest study from the UK1.

In the Netherlands there is little difference between home and hospital births. However, the rate of baby death in homebirths in the Netherlands appears to be about five times higher than the rate for hospital births in Australia; including hospital births of all complexity.

“We absolutely support informed decision making,” said Professor Robson, “but we need to make sure that the evidence comparisons we promote to women and the public are relevant to our own situation. When they aren’t it hinders decision making instead of aiding it.”


1. Birthplace in England Collaborative group.  Perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth for healthy women with low risk pregnancies: the Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study.  BMJ 2011: 343: d7400  doi: 10.1136/bmj.7400 (published 24 November, 2011)



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