Protocol: systematic review and meta-analyses of birth outcomes for women who intend at the onset of labour to give birth at home compared to women of low obstetrical risk who intend to give birth in hospital
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BACKGROUND: There has been a renewed interest in the place of birth, including intended home birth, for low risk women. In the absence of adequately-sized randomised controlled trials, a recent Cochrane review recommended that a systematic review and meta-analysis, including observational studies, be undertaken to inform this topic. The objective of this review is to determine if women intending at the onset of labour to give birth at home are more or less likely to experience a foetal or neonatal loss compared to a cohort of women who are comparable to the home birth cohort on the absence of risk factors but who intend to give birth in a hospital setting. METHODS: We will search using Embase, MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED and the Cochrane Library to find studies published since 1990 that compare foetal, neonatal and maternal outcomes for women who intended at the onset of labour to give birth at home to a comparison cohort of low risk women who intended at the onset of labour to give birth in hospital. We will obtain pooled estimates of effect using Review Manager. Because of the likelihood of differences in outcomes in settings where home birth is integrated into the health care system, we will stratify our results according to jurisdictions that have a health care system that integrates home birth and those where home birth is provided outside the usual health care system. Since parity is known to be associated with birth outcomes, only studies that take parity into account will be included in the meta-analyses. We will provide results by parity to the extent possible. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: This protocol was registered with PROSPERO at http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/Prospero/ (Registration number: CRD42013004046).
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