In 1975, a French doctor named Frederick Leboyer concluded that babies were being harmed for life by the violent way there were brought into the world -- wrenched from the warm, dark womb into a cold, delivery room. To reduce this trauma, Leboyer recommended a different method: delivery in dimmer light in a quiet room, bathing the baby in warm water to ease the transition and placing it on its mother's abdomen so she could fondle it. But are the babies better off? A team of doctors at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, delivered 28 babies Leboyer's way and 26 the conventional way -- with the fluorescent lights and the normal sounds of the delivery room. After eight months of study, the team found no differences in the children's development. "Our results," they sum up, " suggest the Leboyer procedure has no advantage over a gentle conventional delivery." Anticipation of the Leboyer delivery did, however, shorten those mothers' labor, and the mothers believed their children did better because of the experience -- results that should not beunderrated, according to an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, where the study appeared. All childbrith, it said, should be a personal and intimate family affair, not just another technological feat.