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Baby Girl Fighting For Her Life After Home Water Birth

A mother in Canada had planned a home birth with her midwife. They agreed on a water birth to take place in a hot tub, which was filled three days before the actual birth. The baby contracted sepsis from bacteria in the water and is suffering now from organ failure. Some doctors do not believe the benefits of water births outweigh the risks.

The case was published in the Canadian Medical Journal involving a baby born in a hot tub. She was delivered at full term and appeared healthy at birth, but by eight days old she was rushed to the hospital with a high fever. The baby had not been feeding and had been fussy.

An exam found that the baby was suffering from organ failure and she was moved into the Intensive Care Unit. Doctors determined the cause of the organ failure to be sepsis, also known as 'blood poisoning'.

Sepsis is an immune response to infection that can be life-threatening. The baby is believed to have suffered due to Legionella bacterium entering her bloodstream at the time of her birth.

Hot tubs are a prime environment for bacteria like Legionella because they multiply rapidly in the warm, stagnant water. Since the tub was filled days before the mother actually went into labor, it gave the bacteria plenty of time to thrive.

"Although freshly filling a hot tub may reduce the risk, serious infections can still potentially occur in newborns whose immune systems are quite weak," wrote Dr. Michelle Barton of Western University in London, Ontario, in an email to the Daily Mail.

Barton was the author of the study published in the CMAJ.

The baby was put on antibiotics and doctors are getting the infection under control. She's had some improvement, though she's been on a ventilator in the ICU for five weeks. She could have died from the infection, but thankfully got help in the nick of time and was tested for Legionella. An antibiotic regimen needs to be tailored to that diagnosis to be effective, notes Barton.

Water births are becoming more popular due to women reporting that they help ease lower back pain and help women get through births without anesthesia. They are also believed to speed up the early stages of labor, reports the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Unfortunately, there are rare complications that can arise that worry many doctors in the U.S. Some wonder if water births actually offer benefits that make it worth the risk, especially when the births are being performed at home in a non-sterile environment.

"It is recommended that delivery occur on land and not in water," said Dr. Joseph Wax, a researcher at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. "Underwater births are unknown because there are no population studies on this," said Dr. Amos Grunebaum, a researcher at New York Weill Cornell Medicine to the Daily Mail. "But complications can be serious enough to recommend against an underwater birth."

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Canadian Medical Association Journal, YouTube

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