Home birth is a growing movement among expectant mothers who opt to reject hospitals and the sterile environment of maternity wards. But the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and GateHouse Media found that babies born in out-of-hospital deliveries are twice as likely to die as babies born in a hospital.

Reporters investigating the out-of-hospital birth industry talked to more than 100 mothers, midwives, physicians, attorneys, lawmakers and researchers over nine months, as well as reading thousands of pages of documents and analyzing state and national data. 

They found that midwives often downplay the risks of home births and are more reluctant to call 911 when births go wrong. Midwives also have varying levels of education — some have graduate degrees, others high school diplomas — and varying abilities to prescribe medicine. Expectant mothers often don’t know the difference.