Epidemiology of Fetal and Neonatal Death

  • Jean Golding MA

The study of perinatal mortality rates has become increasingly popular. The rates are quoted variously by politicians, sociologists, and clinicians to support whatever point they wish to make. Government spokesmen quote a fall in the perinatal mortality rate as vindication of their policies. Politicians in opposition and clinicians quote high national rates in comparison with selected other countries and claim that the government is not spending enough on maternity or neonatal services. Sociologists point to the differential mortality between advantaged and disadvantaged social groups and claim that better housing, or increased minimum wages, or decreased levels of unemployment would result in an improvement in perinatal mortality rates.

Are any of these claims justifi ed? To interpret any data successfully, whether they relate to a small area or a large country, it is essential to understand the diffi culties inherent in statistics. On the face of it, there should be no diffi culty in ascertaining the perinatal mortality of a particular population. The only items of information necessary are the absolute numbers of total births and perinatal deaths. However, there are two major problems: fi rst, the defi nition, and second, the method of recording.


Neonatal Death Perinatal Mortality Fetal Death Perinatal Death Placenta Previa 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Golding MA
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community-Based MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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