Child dies after home birth: the importance of educating parents on the risks of non-hospital births

Date: October 5, 2016


Key Points


The child was born on 17 February 2015 at his parent’s home near Nimbin in Northern New South Wales.  The child was born breech (bottom first) and without medical assistance.  The child was born not breathing and it took some time for effective resuscitation to occur.

The child was rushed to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Intensive Care Nursery.  The child was diagnosed as having suffered from hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy and that his prospect of survival was minimal.  He was pronounced dead on 19 February 2015.

The coroner heard that the child’s parents were urged not to give birth at home because the foetus was lying sideways and the mother had tested positive for hepatitis C.  The mother advised the coroner that she wanted to avoid going to a hospital due to hospitals being “full of sick people”.  She also advised the coroner that she trusted her husband, who had previously delivered five of his own children at home, and did not want a confrontation about where the baby would be born.


The investigation lead to two recommendations being made, being:


The circumstances of NA’s death highlight the need for a mechanism being put in place to monitor pregnancies that occur outside the hospital system and for parents to be made aware of the risks associated in non-hospital births.  The recommendations made by the coroner, if followed, should assist in this regard.

The Health Law team

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