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August 17, 2005

Family Physicians and Options for Childbirth Care

JAMA. 2005;294(7):793. doi:10.1001/jama.294.7.793-a

To the Editor: The JAMA Patient Page by Dr Torpy and colleagues1 presented information on childbirth. While it noted the role of nurse midwives along with obstetricians, we were perplexed by your omission of family physicians among the options for childbirth care.

Family physicians attend 12% to 20% of births in the United States and more than 40% of births in some regions of Canada.25 Practice patterns vary by region in the United States, with a range of 17.5% to 49.5% of family physicians attending routine deliveries and 2.6% to 9.3% performing cesarean deliveries.5 Family physicians maintain a particularly important role for women who have limited access to obstetric care, and are more likely to provide childbirth services for Medicaid recipients and women in rural areas compared with more affluent and metropolitan areas of the United States.2,4 Family physicians offer a unique childbirth experience by providing care of both mother and newborn.