Vietnam investigates rumor that woman and unborn baby died during 'natural' home delivery

By Minh Minh   March 15, 2018 | 01:12 am PT
Vietnam investigates rumor that woman and unborn baby died during 'natural' home delivery
Doctors call the new trend of home delivery in Vietnam is unsafe and antiscientific.
Doctors say an emerging trend of women shunning medical support is putting themselves and their babies at risk.

Police and health authorities in Ho Chi Minh City are looking into a Facebook rumor currently circulating about a woman who allegedly died during a home delivery.

A Facebook post published on Wednesday saying that the woman had died of fatigue and her unborn child had suffocated has gone viral, meeting with mixed public response ranging from shock and sorrow to  condemnation of an emerging trend of "natural" childbirths in Vietnam.

The sensitive nature of the case has received widespread media coverage and prompted the health ministry to hold an urgent press conference on Thursday morning.

Nguyen Duc Vinh, head of  the maternity and children's health department at the health ministry, told reporters in HCMC that authorities had been unable to confirm the story.

HCMC's health department said the investigation is ongoing.

The post also stated that the woman had paid VND15 million ($660) to attend a "natural" delivery course in District 2 so she could give birth at home. But district official Tran Phuong Nam told Tuoi Tre that the address given on Facebook belonged to a company that had recently closed, and its owner had gone overseas last December.

The shocking Facebook post came more than a week after a woman from the northern province of Hung Yen took the social network by storm with images of her baby that she gave birth to at home, prompting the ministry to issue a warning to other expecting mothers.

In the photos, the baby’s umbilical cord is not removed and is still attached to the placenta, which is in a small basin. The baby was not vaccinated, according to the post. Vietnamese hospitals give newborns two vaccination shots against pneumonia and Hepatitis B.

Although the latest case has not been confirmed, doctors said that home deliveries are emerging as a new trend in Vietnam, and are not safe.

Giving birth without medical support is “very dangerous,” the health ministry said.

Vu Ba Quyet, director of the Central Ob-Gyn Hospital in Hanoi, said that any death due to home delivery by choice would be "regretful.” Quyet said it should have been a thing of the past when people did not have access to proper medical care.

Quyet said "natural" childbirth should not automatically mean home delivery because hospitals always follow a natural path unless there are complications.

Truong Huu Khanh, head of the infectious and neurological diseases department at HCMC’s Children’s Hospital No.1, also raised the alert about home deliveries on his Facebook page, where he provides free childcare consultation.

“Be careful with this unsafe and antiscientific trend. Do not follow it,” he said.

He said that home deliveries can put babies at high risk of infections, such as tetanus, septicemia and meningitis, which can be deadly or have life-long impacts.

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