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Acta Paediatr. 2006 Nov;95(11):1349-52.

Perinatal care in Portugal: effects of 15 years of a regionalized system.

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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Hospital de Dona Estefânia, Lisbon, Portugal.



To share information on the organization of perinatal care in Portugal.


Data were derived from the Programme of the National Committee for Mother and Child Health 1989, National Institute for Statistics, and Eurostat.


In 1989, perinatal care in Portugal was reformed: the closure was proposed of maternity units with less than 1500 deliveries per year; hospitals were classified as level I (no deliveries), II (low-risk deliveries, intermediate care units) or III (high-risk deliveries, intensive care units), and functional coordinating units responsible for liaison between local health centres and hospitals were established. A nationwide system of neonatal transport began in 1987, and in 1990 postgraduate courses on neonatology were initiated. With this reform, in-hospital deliveries increased from 74% before the reform to 99% after. Maternal death rate decreased from 9.2/100,000 deliveries in 1989 to 5.3 in 2003 and, in the same period, the perinatal mortality rate decreased from 16.4 to 6.6/1000 (live births + stillborn with > or = 22 wk gestational age), the neonatal mortality rate decreased from 8.1 to 2.7/1000 live births, and the infant mortality rate from 12.2/1000 live births to 4/1000.


Regionalization of perinatal care and neonatal transport are key factors for a successful perinatal health system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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