US home births rise in pandemic, highest level in decades

New York: U.S. home births increased slightly in the pandemic’s second year, rising to the highest level in decades, according to a government report published Thursday.

Among almost 4 million births in 2021, nearly 52,000 occurred at home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed. That’s up about 12 percent from 2020, following a 22 percent rise from 2019 to 2020.

Increases were seen across races and ethnicities, although home births were much less common among Hispanic women than others.

Elizabeth Gregory, the report’s lead author, said the reasons for the increases are unknown, but they occurred when COVID rates were high and vaccinations were either unavailable or not widely used. Other reports have shown that many people avoided hospital and doctor visits early in the pandemic.

Other possible reasons: Women lacked health insurance or lived far from a hospital and couldn’t make it there in time. Previous research suggests that about 1 in 4 home births are unplanned.

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