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J Epidemiol Community Health 67:983-985 doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203291
  • Editorial

The second European Perinatal Health Report: documenting changes over 6 years in the health of mothers and babies in Europe

Editor's Choice
  1. 1UMRS 953, Epidemiological Research Unit on Perinatal and Women's and Children's Health, INSERM, Paris, France
  2. 2Department Child Health, TNO, Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Leiden, South Holland, The Netherlands
  3. 3Unit of Epidemiology, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Roma, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marina Cuttini, Unit of Epidemiology, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Viale Ferdinando Baldelli 41, Roma 00146, Italy; marina.cuttini{at}opbg.net
  • Received 22 August 2013
  • Accepted 26 August 2013
  • Published Online First 19 September 2013

The second European Perinatal Health Report from the EURO-PERISTAT project was released on May 27 of this year.1 Thirty indicators, compiled from routine statistics in 29 countries, are analysed and grouped into four main areas: fetal, neonatal and child health, maternal health, characteristics of the populations and healthcare. The report results from a 3-year collaboration between researchers, clinicians and official statisticians in Europe. It also contains data from two other European projects: Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe (SCPE) and European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT).

Common definitions and inclusion criteria make it possible to overcome some of the differences between countries in the recording of births and deaths and improve the comparability of the data presented.2 ,3 Both results for the year 2010 and comparisons with the 2004 data published in the first European Perinatal Health Report are included.3

Between 2004 and 2010, fetal, neonatal and infant mortality decreased almost everywhere. Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands experienced the largest absolute declines in fetal mortality rates (a reduction of 1.4 per 1000 total births). Absolute declines in neonatal mortality were greatest in countries where rates were higher in 2004 such as some of the Eastern European countries. However, declines were also observed in countries with low rates in 2004 such as Finland and Sweden, showing that further decreases are still possible.

In some cases, these improvements followed public health actions deliberately undertaken at national level. In the Netherlands, the public debate following this country poor ranking in fetal and neonatal mortality with 2000 and 2004 data led to a series of policy efforts, including audits of perinatal deaths in term babies and establishing a national commission on perinatal care.4 Also, in 2007 prenatal screening for congenital anomalies was implemented …