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Inform Health Soc Care. 2010 Mar;35(2):64-79. doi: 10.3109/17538157.2010.492923.

Perinatal health monitoring in Europe: results from the EURO-PERISTAT project.

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National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.


Data about deliveries, births, mothers and newborn babies are collected extensively to monitor the health and care of mothers and babies during pregnancy, delivery and the post-partum period, but there is no common approach in Europe. We analysed the problems related to using the European data for international comparisons of perinatal health. We made an inventory of relevant data sources in 25 European Union (EU) member states and Norway, and collected perinatal data using a previously defined indicator list. The main sources were civil registration based on birth and death certificates, medical birth registers, hospital discharge systems, congenital anomaly registers, confidential enquiries and audits. A few countries provided data from routine perinatal surveys or from aggregated data collection systems. The main methodological problems were related to differences in registration criteria and definitions, coverage of data collection, problems in combining information from different sources, missing data and random variation for rare events. Collection of European perinatal health information is feasible, but the national health information systems need improvements to fill gaps. To improve international comparisons, stillbirth definitions should be standardised and a short list of causes of fetal and infant deaths should be developed.

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