Family Doctor Can Safely Assist Many Births

In low-risk pregnancies, delivery of the baby by a family doctor or an obstetrician is equally safe, a new study finds.

The researchers analyzed nearly 800,000 births at 390 Canadian hospitals between 2006 and 2009. They found there were 3,600 newborn deaths and nearly 14,400 cases of complications in mothers.

The risk of death or complications in low-risk deliveries was the same whether the births were handled by family doctors or by obstetricians, according to the study published Aug. 24 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“It is common to assume that more specialized or higher-volume medical care will result in improved outcomes,” wrote researcher Dr. Kris Aubrey-Bassler, an assistant professor of family medicine in the Primary Healthcare Research Unit at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Canada.

“The obstetric literature has consistently shown that outcomes for high-risk newborns and mothers are best at higher-volume, more specialized hospitals; however, findings from the literature on low-risk deliveries are variable,” Aubrey-Bassler explained in a journal news release.

The researchers emphasized that their findings apply only to low-risk pregnancies, and that women with high-risk pregnancies need to be cared for by specialists.

More information

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about labor and birth.

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