Israeli Newborn Dies of Complications After Home Birth

Medics could not save baby girl; mother, a resident of a Jezreel Valley locale in her 40s, said to be in good condition.

A Magen David Adom emergency medical service ambulance.
Moti Kimche

A baby girl born early Tuesday to a mother in her 40s at their Jezreel Valley home in the north died from complications in the delivery.

A Magen David Adom emergency medical crew dispatched to the scene tried to resuscitate the infant after she lost her pulse and stopped breathing. She was subsequently pronounced dead at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.

MDA staff, who said it was not clear why the infant was in distress, dispatched an ambulance and also sent over a mobile intensive-care vehicle. The baby was brought to the hospital in Haifa while efforts to resuscitate her were under way. The mother was also brought to the hospital to be examined and was found to be in good physical condition.

Erez Geller, an MDA medic who was dispatched to the woman’s home, noted that childbirths that are not carried out in the hospital carry certain risks. There are an estimated 500 home births each year in Israel, out of a total of about 180,000 babies delivered in the country. Exact statistics on home birthing are hard to come by in part because not all such deliveries were planned to take place at home; moreover, some parents plan on a home birth but in the end have their offspring delivered in the hospital due to complications.

The Health Ministry does not maintain a registry of home births, and although the law allows them, the ministry’s declared policy is that babies are best delivered under proper medical supervision in a hospital. The government policy is also reflected in the fact that the National Insurance Institute only pays parents a birth stipend if their baby is born in the hospital or if the mother is hospitalized within a day of delivery. A bill is pending in the Knesset, however, that is seeking to change that policy.