Journal Article

Analysis of Perinatal Mortality and Its Components: Time for a Change?

Michael S. Kramer, Shiliang Liu, Zhongcheng Luo, Hongbo Yuan, Robert W. Platt and K. S. Joseph

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 156, issue 6, pages 493-497
Published in print September 2002 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online September 2002 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwf077
Analysis of Perinatal Mortality and Its Components: Time for a Change?

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Since the midtwentieth century, stillbirths (late fetal deaths) and early neonatal deaths have often been combined into a single category of “perinatal” deaths. In the past, such a combination was justified by the fact that asphyxia was a common cause of death during labor (intrapartum stillbirth) and shortly after birth and by geographic and temporal differences in classification of livebirths versus stillbirths. In more recent years, however, the etiologic determinants have diverged sharply, with many fewer early neonatal deaths caused by asphyxia and relatively many more caused by congenital anomalies. Moreover, the increasingly common stratification of pregnancy outcome measures by gestational age or birth weight leads to the use of an inappropriate denominator (total livebirths plus stillbirths within each gestational age or birth weight category) for denoting risk for the stillbirth component, because all unborn fetuses (including the majority of those not born within the specified gestational age or birth weight range) are at risk of being stillborn in that range. The authors suggest that, whenever possible, stillbirths and early neonatal deaths should be reported separately, with gestational age-specific risks of stillbirth based on all fetuses at risk, and that antepartum and intrapartum stillbirths be reported separately.

Keywords: abnormalities; fetal death; infant, newborn

Journal Article.  3300 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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