A few days ago, NBC aired an "investigative report" titled "The Perils of Midwifery". Watch it and decide for yourself whether the story should be considered truly "investigative journalism". (Obviously, I didn't think so!) I was incensed enough to write a letter to NBC, and I am posting it here in the interest of getting the word out beyond their mail room.
In your recent story “The Perils of Midwifery”, Peter Alexander makes the nebulous claim that “doctors say it is impossible to compare [home vs. hospital births] because hospitals deal with so many high risk cases.”
First I’d like to note that simply using “doctors say” without attributing the idea to anyone specifically, is a subtle appeal to authority without facts, or even a specific person to back it up. If that claim is going to be made, there needs to be someone actually saying it.
Second, it is not true that it is “impossible to compare” home and hospital births, and it is irresponsible journalism to let that implied fact stand. In fact it is possible, and has been done multiple times. In the Netherlands, a comparison of “low-risk” women birthing at home with those birthing in hospital found no difference in death or serious illness among either baby or mother. A Canadian study, released just last month, showed that planned home births were associated with comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of adverse maternal outcomes compared with planned hospital births. A study of birth in the United States concluded that home birth for low risk women using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention, and comparable neonatal mortality to that of low risk hospital births. Finally, the American Cochrane review of 11 separate studies came to the conclusion that midwifery care confers benefits for women and their babies and is recommended.
True investigative reporting should have found and reported this information, instead of claiming that it does not exist.