Accidental out-of-hospital deliveries: an obstetric and neonatal case control study


Address for correspondence:
Dr Andrew Thomson
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
University of Glasgow
10 Alexandria Parade
G31 2ER
United Kingdom


Background. Accidental out-of-hospital (OHD) deliveries are associated with high rates of perinatal morbidity and mortality. The ability of health care workers to identify women at risk of out-of-hospital delivery is limited. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of these deliveries in our population and to quantify the neonatal morbidity and mortality associated with such births. Further we aimed to determine whether women at risk of accidental out-of-hospital delivery in our population could be identified antenatally.

Methods. A retrospective case-control study was performed. Women who delivered accidentally out-of-hospital in our catchment area between January 1995 and March 1999 were identified (cases) and compared with women who delivered in hospital following spontaneous labor (controls). Outcome measures included maternal demographic characteristics, obstetric features and neonatal outcome.

Results. In the study period, 117 women delivering 121 babies were identified who delivered accidentally out-of-hospital, (0.6% of all deliveries registered at the hospital). Women who delivered before arrival at hospital were more likely to be of greater parity, unbooked, late bookers and/or poor attenders for antenatal care. Gestation at delivery, duration of labor and birthweight were less in the out-of-hospital delivery group compared with the control group. The rate of perineal suturing was lower for cases than controls. Babies who were delivered accidentally out-of-hospital were more likely to require admission to the neonatal unit and had a higher perinatal mortality rate than controls (51.7 versus 8.6/1000 deliveries, respectively).

Conclusions. Accidental out-of-hospital deliveries account for less than 1% of deliveries in our population, but are associated with significant perinatal morbidity and mortality. Women should be educated regarding the importance of both antenatal care and a planned delivery. Since the majority of women who deliver accidentally out-of hospital are parous, there is an opportunity to do this in a previous confinement.