No wonder Melissa Cheyney refuses to release the death rate of Oregon homebirths.
In August, I wrote:
The minutes of the August 5, 2010 Board meeting reports that the state of Oregon asked for the ability to retrieve information on Oregon midwives from the database:It doesn't take a rocket scientist to speculate that there have been an extraordinary number of deaths. Now comes information from a new source that confirms that suspicion.
"Cheyney stated that the MANA board's official policy is to give state-level accounts to professional organizations as a tool to evaluate areas where more training might be needed for the purpose of self regulation, and to not provide the data to regulatory entities."
In other words, the database is only to be used by MANA itself, and not shared with anyone who could potentially identify unqualified midwives and discipline them.
A new website, Oregon Homebirth Midwife Info, has compiled a Midwife Directory that makes for stomach-churning reading. The directory lists midwives by name and includes reports of deaths as well as other major morbidity and actions taken against the midwives.
It is an incomplete list; not all Oregon midwives are included and there may have been additional deaths that are not recorded. Nonetheless, the statistics are no less than horrifying.
In the past decade, no less than 19 babies have died at the hands of Oregon homebirth midwives.
To put that in perspective, consider that there are approximately 1000 homebirths per year in Oregon and that the neonatal death rate for low risk women in a hospital setting is 4/10,000 (0.4/1000). That means that you would expect approximately 4 homebirth deaths per decade. Instead there were at least 19 deaths, for a rate more than 4X higher (375%) than expected.
No less than 16 midwives have presided over at least one death. Interestingly, only 2 were unlicensed midwives. The rest were licensed at the time of the death(s) and almost all had complaints filed against them with the Board of Direct Entry Midwifery. In other words, this information is available to Melissa Cheyney in her role as a member of the Board.
Homebirth kills babies. No one knows that better than Melissa Cheyney, who has, until now, successfully hidden the number of homebirth deaths at the hands of Oregon homebirth midwives, and who continues, in her role as Director of Research at MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America), to hide the number of babies who died at the hands of homebirth midwives across the country.
This piece first appeared in The Skeptical OB in November 2011.