For 1980 Singapore was found to have overall a more favourable birthweight distribution than England and Wales. The proportion of very low birthweight babies (less than 1500 g) and heavy babies (3500 g and over) was 0.4% and 18.5% in Singapore and 0.7% and 34.9% in England and Wales for live births, and 0.6% and 18.5% against 0.9% and 34.7% for total births. However, for low birthweight (less than 2500 g) Singapore with 7.5% in live births and 7.9% in total births had higher rates than England and Wales (6.7% and 7.2%). While infant mortality rates were very similar, Singapore had a somewhat higher neonatal mortality rate but a considerably lower postneonatal mortality rate than England and Wales. The effects on mortality of standardising for birthweight are examined. The problems of interpretation and the implications of the findings are discussed.
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