Congestion Could Cause More Curbside Births

More babies are being born before their mothers make it to the hospital

More babies are arriving in less customary locations nationwide. There has been an almost 20 percent spike since 2009 in baby deliveries in locations outside homes, hospitals and clinics – and performed by people other than doctors, nurses and midwives, according to an investigation by the News-4 I-Team.

The News4 I-Team reviewed Centers for Disease Control birth records, Maryland health data and Virginia Department of Health statistics after the recent series of curbside baby deliveries in the Washington, D.C., region. The review found in 2011 there were 1,219 babies born to people who aren’t doctors, nurses or midwives in the U.S. in locations outside of traditional medical facilities, clinics and homes. In 2009, there were 1,073.

In recent weeks, the I-Team tracked multiple local births along roadsides, including the Aug. 14 birth of Arya Swanson on a driveway on Nebraska Avenue in northwest D.C. Swanson’s parents were en route to a hospital in Silver Spring but bailed off the road when labor escalated. D.C. firefighters and a paramedic delivered the child.

Amir Taylor was born four weeks ago inside the L’Enfant Plaza metro station in Washington. His mother went into labor on a train and delivered on a station platform.

Dr. Tamika Auguste, a representative of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the D.C. region’s intense traffic could be raising the risk of curbside deliveries. Auguste said,

“If a woman is caught in labor, especially with her second, third, fourth or fifth child, things are coming fast, and I truly believe traffic is going to be a factor,” Auguste said.

Auguste said more women are also opting for more distant hospitals and doctors, raising the risk of traffic-induced deliveries.


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A Washington-based spokesman for AAA , the motor club and travel organization, also said congested Washington-area streets have also raised the threat of births in unexpected locations.

Another potential factor: New trends in baby delivery choices. The News4 I-Team’s research found a 50 percent spike in the number of women opting to give birth at home, rather than a hospital or clinic, since 2004. Researchers with the CDC told the I-Team approximately 15 percent of women who intend to deliver a baby at home must ultimately be hospitalized, often after labor or complications have ensued.

Sharon Taylor, grandmother of Amir Taylor, told the News4 I-Team her daughter had previously given birth in an unexpected location, delivering a child in a second-floor bathroom of her home.

Bryan Spies, a Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department paramedic, has delivered eight children in his nine years on the job, including the recent delivery of a baby along Eastern Avenue in the county. Spies told the I-Team county paramedics are equipped with basic baby-delivery supplies, including cloths, gloves and scissors with which to cut an umbilical cord.

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