What was the neonatal mortality rate in the hospital in the year 2000? That's what we need to know in order to evaluate the claims of the Johnson and Daviss study.
I went back and looked at the neonatal mortality data for this group, the EXACT group that Johnson and Daviss felt was the perfect comparison for intervention rates. I did this by reviewing the exact same paper that Johnson and Daviss used. As you probably know, the paper is 105 pages long and has been divided into subsets for ease of research. The subset on neonatal mortality is Infant Mortality Statistics from the 2000 Period Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Set. Looking at the raw data we find:
2,824,196 births to white women at term (37+ weeks), see Table 2
2,602 deaths of white babies weighing more that 2500 gm see Table 6
a death rate of 0.9/1000.
That's before congenital anomalies, breech and twins are excluded from the hospital group.
Johnson and Davis reported the following:
"After we excluded ... three babies with fatal birth defects, five deaths were intrapartum and six occurred during the neonatal period. This was a rate of 2.0 deaths per 1000 intended home births. The intrapartum and neonatal mortality was 1.7 deaths per 1000 low risk intended home births after planned breeches and twins (not considered low risk) were excluded."
If the congenital anomalies, breeches and twins are added back in, the death rate in 2.7/1000.
So, the neonatal death rate for white women at term in the year 2000 was 0.9/1000 and the neonatal death rate at homebirth was 2.7/1000. This is almost 3 times higher than the hospital death rate. Chi square analysis shows this to be statistically significant (p is less than 0.005).
Using the exact same raw data that Johnson and Daviss used, we see that homebirth with a CPM in the year 2000 had a significantly higher neonatal death rate than hospital birth. Therefore, Johnson and Daviss never showed that homebirth is as safe as hospital birth, regardless of what they claimed; they showed that it was considerably more dangerous for babies.