A newborn girl in Canada developed a life-threatening infection after being delivered in a hot tub, leading doctors to offer fresh evidence that women should not deliver babies in water.
The baby girl was delivered full-term and was healthy at birth.
However, she was later hospitalised at eight-days-old with a high-fever, poor feeding and fussiness, and was then moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) because her organs were failing, the CMAJ Medical Journal reports.
The newborn was diagnosed with sepsis, a life-threatening response to an infection with 'Legionella bacterium' that was entered into her bloodstream. The bacteria thrives in warm water, and the hot tub, which was filled days before her birth, may have created an ideal environment for an infection.
The baby had been born underwater in a hot tub at home, supervised by a midwife. The hot tub had been filled three days before birth, a practice that can lead to increased concentrations of bacteria such as Legionella in the water as it thrives in temperatures from 20 to 42 degrees Celsius.
After multiple tests, she was started on antibiotics to treat infection and began to improve. She spent five weeks on a ventilator in the ICU before she left the hospital.
Although the young baby survived this ordeal, experts have weighed in on water births, saying the general risks do not outweigh the benefits.
'It is recommended that delivery occur on land and not in water,' Wax, a researcher at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
'Laboring in water prior to delivery hasn't been found to be harmful,' said Dr. Amos Grunebaum, a researcher at New York Weill Cornell Medicine.
'Warm water is an ideal environment for some bugs to grow,' Dr Sutcliffe, a researcher at the Institute of Child Health at University College London, said. 'Babies are not dolphins – those are born underwater – humans are land mammals.'