Home births in the United States increased 20% from 2004 to 2008, reaching their highest level since 1990, according to a study published online Friday in the journal Birth.
The study's authors, led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistician Marian F. MacDorman, examined trends in home births by looking at birth certificate data from all 50 states. These provided information about maternal race and ethnicity, maternal age and marital status, whether infants were born prematurely, birth weight, place of birth and who attended the delivery.
While home births had declined gradually between 1990 and 2004, the team found, they began creeping back up in 2004. That year, there were 23,150 home births in the United States -- about 0.56% of total births. In 2008, there were 28,357 home births in the country, or 0.67% of total births.
The increase appears to be driven primarily by an increased interest among Caucasian women in giving birth at home, the authors wrote. In 2004, about 0.80% of births among Caucasian women were home births. In 2008, 1.02% were. The researchers calculated that approximately 94% of the increase in overall percentage of home births between 2004 and 2008 was because of this increase. According to the study, the percentage of home births among white women is three to six times higher than for any other race or ethnic group.