Characteristics of Home Births — 40 States and New York City, 2012–2017

  • Our analysis provides an in-depth look at characteristics of women who gave birth at home (including race/ethnicity, education, and insurance during prenatal visits) compared to those who gave birth at a hospital or birthing center. We also looked at the percent of women that had a home birth with pregnancies at low-risk for unfavorable birth outcomes and those at high-risk for unfavorable birth outcomes where a facility birth may be more appropriate.
  • This analysis of self-reported data from mothers in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System between 2012 and 2017 found that nearly 30% of home births were among women with high-risk pregnancies and the prevalence of home birth varied by state, as well as demographic characteristics.  Among home births, women more commonly were married, white, over age 25, with fewer than 12 years education, no insurance during prenatal visits and had not attended or delayed attending prenatal visits until after the first trimester compared to births at hospitals or birthing centers.
  • Guidance from professional organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics highlights that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest settings for birth in the United States, but both note that each woman has the right to make a medically informed decision about how to deliver.  To that end, some research notes that home births have more favorable outcomes for both mothers and babies when they occur among women with low-risk pregnancies as opposed to women with higher risk pregnancies.  Understanding the risk profile of women who have home births – as this analysis does – can help guide safe birthing practices.
Quote from the Disease Detective

“Roughly 30 percent of home births were ‘high-risk.’ Delivering in a home setting could put women with high-risk pregnancies and their babies at greater risk for adverse outcomes. Healthcare providers should communicate with their patients about both the risks and benefits of home birth based on recent evidence with each pregnancy, throughout the pregnancy, so that each woman can make an informed decision about delivery.”

– Sonal Goyal, PharmD, MPH, EIS Class of 2018

Sonal Goyal, PharmD, MPH, EIS Class of 2018, analyzes home births[PNG - 509 KB]

Sonal Goyal, PharmD, MPH, EIS Class of 2018, analyzes home births using PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System) data at her desk in Atlanta, Georgia

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
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Conference Information
Sonal Goyal


Sonal Goyal, PharmD, MPH,
EIS Class of 2018
CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Reproductive Health

Education: PharmD: University of Illinois College of Pharmacy, 2010
MPH: University of California, Berkeley, 2014

Work Experience: Pharmacy Consultant, Indian Health Service – Sacramento, California, 2017-2018
Sexual Health/HIV Research Project Coordinator, Sutter Health – Oakland, California, 2016-2017
Epidemiology Technical Advisor/Fellow, CDC – Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, 2014-2015

Volunteer Experience: Research Assistant, UIC Center for Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics – Chicago, Illinois, 2012-2013
Founder of Health/Sex Education Program, Hogar Temporal – Guatemala, 2012; Volunteer Pharmacist, Community Health Clinic – Chicago, Illinois, 2011-2013