Fact Checking: Denmark is the safest place to give birth

The Danish media is a law unto itself. All it takes is one reassuring spokesperson to say

“Don’t worry that we sent you home during an induction and some people have been badly injured in this process, keep in mind Denmark is one of the safest places in which to give birth”

and the subeditor will write the following headline

Denmark is the safest place in which to give birth

Is this true?

Sadly, no.

If you wish to compare Denmark with countries such as Somalia, South Sudan and Afghanistan, Denmark looks pretty good.

If you prefer to compare the risks in similar developed countries (in the OECD, for example), Denmark is  poor to middling.

(Statistics were unavailable for any year after 2009.)

Maternal mortality per 100 000 live births in 2009

Denmark was the second most dangerous country in the OECD. Better than Mexico but worse than Hungary, Turkey, Chile, Slovak Republic, the UK etc.

Neonatal mortality per 100 000 live births in 2009

Denmark was the 13th safest country in the OECD. This puts it in the middle of the table.

There are other statistics available from the UN but these are estimated based on access to midwives/hospitals/prenatal care. Denmark is doing worse than it should be, given the advantages Danish women have in their country.

Is sending someone home during an induction safe? I don’t know. Is Denmark a particularly unsafe country in which to give birth? Probably not.

To say that Denmark is “one of the safest” is technically true but then so are a lot of countries. Saying it is THE safest is demonstrably untrue. Especially since on International Women’s Day,  The Independent said Greece and Norway were the best. Strangely, Denmark did not pick that story up.

3 thoughts on “Fact Checking: Denmark is the safest place to give birth

  1. I don’t know about this. I have had one child in South Africa, one in England and one here in Denmark. I hate Denmark, but i have to say that the treatment i received during my pregnancy and birth of my child were like nothing i have ever experienced before. The nurses and Dr’s were truely amazing. This is the one thing i personally cannot fault Denmark for. I would reccomend Horsens hospital for anyone having a baby, the service was outstanding.

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  2. I don’t think it is true. I’ve witnessed birth in Danish hospitals and it made my hair curl. I’ve witnessed birth in other systems too, and have to say I would rather take my chances in a fucking hedgerow on a winter night than birth in a Danish hospital.

    I am not even going to get started on what I know for sure about Danish midwives, Danish hospitals and the way babies are risked and mothers steamrollered. Most Danish women are quite happy with the service they get and don’t really know any better so it doesn’t really matter.

    My advice as someone who probably knows more than the average Mads or Inge about these things is that if you have a modicum of intelligence or an ounce of instinct, one should steer well fucking clear of Danish midwives.

    There’s a few special ones who offer reasonable service on Zealand, but Jutland is almost devoid of good uns. Most just tow the line.

    Risk birth in Danish hospitals? Be fooled by the stats they churn out and the lies about safety? Risk all manner of untold birth trauma or worse. I have witnessed midwives and doctors here take real and very stupid and unintelligent risks with mothers and babies and I pity anybody destined for birth here because their choices are so very very narrow.

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