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1.  Gestational weight gain in twin pregnancies and maternal and child health: a systematic review 
Our objective was to systematically review the data interrogating the association between gestational weight gain (GWG) and maternal and child health among women with twin gestations. We identified 15 articles of twin gestations that studied GWG in relation to a maternal, perinatal, or child health outcome and controlled for gestational age at delivery and prepregnancy body mass index. A positive association between GWG and fetal size was consistently found. Evidence on preterm birth and pregnancy complications was inconsistent. The existing studies suffer from serious methodological weaknesses, including not properly accounting for the strong correlation between gestational duration and GWG and not controlling for chorionicity. In addition, serious perinatal outcomes were not studied, and no research is available on the association between GWG and outcomes beyond birth. Our systematic review underscores that GWG in twin gestations is a neglected area of research. Rigorous studies are needed to inform future evidence-based guidelines.
doi:10.1038/jp.2013.177
PMCID: PMC4046859  PMID: 24457254
birth outcomes; maternal nutrition
2.  The bias in current measures of gestational weight gain 
Summary
Conventional measures of gestational weight gain (GWG), such as average rate of weight gain, are likely correlated with gestational duration. Such correlation could introduce bias to epidemiologic studies of GWG and adverse perinatal outcomes because many perinatal outcomes are also correlated with gestational duration. This study aimed to quantify the extent to which currently-used GWG measures may bias the apparent relation between maternal weight gain and risk of preterm birth. For each woman in a provincial perinatal database registry (British Columbia, Canada, 2000–2009), a total GWG was simulated such that it was uncorrelated with risk of preterm birth. The simulation was based on serial antenatal GWG measurements from a sample of term pregnancies. Simulated GWGs were classified using 3 approaches: total weight gain (kg), average rate of weight gain (kg/week) or adequacy of gestational weight gain in relation to Institute of Medicine recommendations, and their association with preterm birth ≤ 32 weeks was explored using logistic regression. All measures of GWG induced an apparent association between GWG and preterm birth ≤32 weeks even when, by design, none existed. Odds ratios in the lowest fifths of each GWG measure compared with the middle fifths ranged from 4.4 [95% CI 3.6, 5.4] (total weight gain) to 1.6 [95% CI 1.3, 2.0] (Institute of Medicine adequacy ratio). Conventional measures of GWG introduce serious bias to the study of maternal weight gain and preterm birth. A new measure of GWG that is uncorrelated with gestational duration is needed.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-3016.2011.01254.x
PMCID: PMC4036628  PMID: 22324496
Bias; Epidemiologic; Pregnancy; Pregnancy nutrition; Premature birth; Weight gain
3.  A Risk Prediction Model for the Assessment and Triage of Women with Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy in Low-Resourced Settings: The miniPIERS (Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk) Multi-country Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001589.
Beth Payne and colleagues use a risk prediction model, the Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk (miniPIERS) to help inform the clinical assessment and triage of women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in low-resourced settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia are leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, particularly in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). We developed the miniPIERS risk prediction model to provide a simple, evidence-based tool to identify pregnant women in LMICs at increased risk of death or major hypertensive-related complications.
Methods and Findings
From 1 July 2008 to 31 March 2012, in five LMICs, data were collected prospectively on 2,081 women with any hypertensive disorder of pregnancy admitted to a participating centre. Candidate predictors collected within 24 hours of admission were entered into a step-wise backward elimination logistic regression model to predict a composite adverse maternal outcome within 48 hours of admission. Model internal validation was accomplished by bootstrapping and external validation was completed using data from 1,300 women in the Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk (fullPIERS) dataset. Predictive performance was assessed for calibration, discrimination, and stratification capacity. The final miniPIERS model included: parity (nulliparous versus multiparous); gestational age on admission; headache/visual disturbances; chest pain/dyspnoea; vaginal bleeding with abdominal pain; systolic blood pressure; and dipstick proteinuria. The miniPIERS model was well-calibrated and had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC ROC) of 0.768 (95% CI 0.735–0.801) with an average optimism of 0.037. External validation AUC ROC was 0.713 (95% CI 0.658–0.768). A predicted probability ≥25% to define a positive test classified women with 85.5% accuracy. Limitations of this study include the composite outcome and the broad inclusion criteria of any hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. This broad approach was used to optimize model generalizability.
Conclusions
The miniPIERS model shows reasonable ability to identify women at increased risk of adverse maternal outcomes associated with the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. It could be used in LMICs to identify women who would benefit most from interventions such as magnesium sulphate, antihypertensives, or transportation to a higher level of care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Each year, ten million women develop pre-eclampsia or a related hypertensive (high blood pressure) disorder of pregnancy and 76,000 women die as a result. Globally, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy cause around 12% of maternal deaths—deaths of women during or shortly after pregnancy. The mildest of these disorders is gestational hypertension, high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational hypertension does not usually harm the mother or her unborn child and resolves after delivery but up to a quarter of women with this condition develop pre-eclampsia, a combination of hypertension and protein in the urine (proteinuria). Women with mild pre-eclampsia may not have any symptoms—the condition is detected during antenatal checks—but more severe pre-eclampsia can cause headaches, blurred vision, and other symptoms, and can lead to eclampsia (fits), multiple organ failure, and death of the mother and/or her baby. The only “cure” for pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby as soon as possible but women are sometimes given antihypertensive drugs to lower their blood pressure or magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures.
Why Was This Study Done?
Women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are more likely to develop complications of pre-eclampsia than women in high-income countries and most of the deaths associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy occur in LMICs. The high burden of illness and death in LMICs is thought to be primarily due to delays in triage (the identification of women who are or may become severely ill and who need specialist care) and delays in transporting these women to facilities where they can receive appropriate care. Because there is a shortage of health care workers who are adequately trained in the triage of suspected cases of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in many LMICs, one way to improve the situation might be to design a simple tool to identify women at increased risk of complications or death from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Here, the researchers develop miniPIERS (Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk), a clinical risk prediction model for adverse outcomes among women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy suitable for use in community and primary health care facilities in LMICs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data on candidate predictors of outcome that are easy to collect and/or measure in all health care settings and that are associated with pre-eclampsia from women admitted with any hypertensive disorder of pregnancy to participating centers in five LMICs to build a model to predict death or a serious complication such as organ damage within 48 hours of admission. The miniPIERS model included parity (whether the woman had been pregnant before), gestational age (length of pregnancy), headache/visual disturbances, chest pain/shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding with abdominal pain, systolic blood pressure, and proteinuria detected using a dipstick. The model was well-calibrated (the predicted risk of adverse outcomes agreed with the observed risk of adverse outcomes among the study participants), it had a good discriminatory ability (it could separate women who had a an adverse outcome from those who did not), and it designated women as being at high risk (25% or greater probability of an adverse outcome) with an accuracy of 85.5%. Importantly, external validation using data collected in fullPIERS, a study that developed a more complex clinical prediction model based on data from women attending tertiary hospitals in high-income countries, confirmed the predictive performance of miniPIERS.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the miniPIERS model performs reasonably well as a tool to identify women at increased risk of adverse maternal outcomes associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Because miniPIERS only includes simple-to-measure personal characteristics, symptoms, and signs, it could potentially be used in resource-constrained settings to identify the women who would benefit most from interventions such as transportation to a higher level of care. However, further external validation of miniPIERS is needed using data collected from women living in LMICs before the model can be used during routine antenatal care. Moreover, the value of miniPIERS needs to be confirmed in implementation projects that examine whether its potential translates into clinical improvements. For now, though, the model could provide the basis for an education program to increase the knowledge of women, families, and community health care workers in LMICs about the signs and symptoms of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001589.
The World Health Organization provides guidelines for the management of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in low-resourced settings
The Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program provides information on pre-eclampsia and eclampsia targeted to low-resourced settings along with a tool-kit for LMIC providers
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides information about high blood pressure in pregnancy and a guide to lowering blood pressure in pregnancy
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about pre-eclampsia
The US not-for profit organization Preeclampsia Foundation provides information about all aspects of pre-eclampsia; its website includes some personal stories
The UK charity Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about hypertensive disorders of pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure and pregnancy (in English and Spanish); the MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a video about pre-eclampsia (also in English and Spanish)
More information about miniPIERS and about fullPIERS is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001589
PMCID: PMC3897359  PMID: 24465185
4.  Biases in studying gestational weight gain and infant mortality in U.S. birth certificates 
Maternal and child health journal  2012;16(4):10.1007/s10995-012-0987-x.
doi:10.1007/s10995-012-0987-x
PMCID: PMC3853097  PMID: 22453329
5.  Determinants of increases in stillbirth rates from 2000 to 2010 
Background:
After decades of decline, stillbirth rates have increased in several industrialized countries in recent years. We examined data from the province of British Columbia, Canada, in an attempt to explain this unexpected phenomenon.
Methods:
We carried out a retrospective population-based cohort study of all births in British Columbia from 2000 to 2010. Outcomes of interest included overall stillbirth rates, birth weight–and gestational age–specific stillbirth rates, rates of spontaneous stillbirths (excluding pregnancy terminations that satisfied the definition of stillbirth [fetal death with a birth weight ≥ 500 g or gestational age at delivery ≥ 20 wk], hereafter referred to as “pregnancy terminations”) and rates of congenital anomalies among live-born infants. We used logistic regression to adjust for changes in maternal age, parity, weight before pregnancy and multiple births.
Results:
Overall, stillbirth rates increased by 31% (95% confidence interval [CI] 13% to 50%), from 8.08 per 1000 total births in 2000 to 10.55 per 1000 in 2010. The rate of stillbirths with a birth weight of less than 500 g increased significantly (ptrend = 0.03), whereas the rate of stillbirths with a birth weight of 1000 g or more decreased significantly (ptrend = 0.009). The rate of spontaneous stillbirths decreased nonsignificantly by 16%, from 5.7 per 1000 total births in 2000 to 4.8 per 1000 in 2010. There was a significant decline of 30% (95% CI 6% to 47%) in the rate of spontaneous stillbirth with a birth weight of 1000 g or more between 2000 and 2010; adjustment for maternal factors did not appreciably change this temporal effect. The prevalence of congenital anomalies among live-born infants decreased significantly, from 5.21 per 100 live births during the first 3 years (2000–02) to 4.77 per 100 during the final 3 years (2008–10).
Interpretation:
Increases in pregnancy terminations were responsible for the increases observed in stillbirth rates and were associated with declines in the prevalence of congenital anomalies among live-born infants.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.121372
PMCID: PMC3652963  PMID: 23569166
6.  Maternal, Care Provider, and Institutional-Level Risk Factors for Early Term Elective Repeat Cesarean Delivery: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
To identify maternal, care provider, and institutional-level risk factors for early term (37–38 weeks) elective repeat cesarean delivery in a population-based cohort. Retrospective cohort study of women in the British Columbia (BC) Perinatal Data Registry, BC, Canada, 2008–2011, with an elective repeat cesarean delivery at term. Absolute percent differences (risk differences) in early term delivery rates were calculated according to maternal characteristics, type of care provider, calendar time (day of the week, time of year), and annual institutional obstetrical volume. Of the 7,687 elective repeat cesareans at term in BC, 55 % occurred before 39 + 0 weeks. Early term delivery was significantly more common with multiple previous cesareans [8.2 percentage points (95 % CI 5.5, 10.9) for 2 previous cesareans, 11.3 (95 % CI 5.1, 17.4) for 3 or more previous cesareans], obesity [6.7 percentage points (95 % CI 1.6, 11.7)], and a hospital obstetrical volume <2,500 deliveries per year. Type of care provider and calendar time were not significant risk factors for early term delivery. Early term elective repeat cesarean was common across a wide range of maternal, care provider, and institutional characteristics, suggesting that most obstetrical care settings would benefit from quality-improvement programs to reduce elective repeat cesarean deliveries before 39 weeks. A better understanding of the risks and benefits of early term delivery among obese women and women with multiple previous cesareans is needed given the higher rates of early term delivery observed in these women.
doi:10.1007/s10995-013-1229-6
PMCID: PMC3889674  PMID: 23400680
Cesarean section; Repeat; Term birth; Epidemiologic determinants; Health services; Maternal
7.  Trends in postpartum hemorrhage from 2000 to 2009: a population-based study 
Background
Postpartum hemorrhage, a major cause of maternal death and severe maternal morbidity, increased in frequency in Canada between 1991 and 2004. We carried out a study to describe the epidemiology of postpartum hemorrhage in British Columbia, Canada, between 2000 and 2009.
Methods
The study population included all women residents of British Columbia who delivered between 2000 and 2009. Data on postpartum hemorrhage by subtypes and severity were obtained from the British Columbia Perinatal Data Registry. Among women with postpartum hemorrhage, severe cases were identified by the use of blood transfusions or procedures to control bleeding. Rates of postpartum hemorrhage and changes over time were assessed using rates, rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results
The rate of postpartum hemorrhage increased by 27% (95% CI 21-34%) between 2000 and 2009 (from 6.3% to 8.0%), while atonic postpartum hemorrhage rates increased by 33% (95% CI 26-41%) from 4.8% to 6.4%. Atonic postpartum hemorrhage with blood transfusion increased from 17.8 to 25.5 per 10,000 deliveries from 2000 to 2009 and atonic postpartum hemorrhage with either suturing of the uterus, ligation of pelvic vessels or embolization increased from 1.8 to 5.6 per 10,000 deliveries from 2001 to 2009. The increase in atonic postpartum hemorrhage was most evident between 2006 and 2009 and occurred across regions, hospitals and various maternal, fetal and obstetric characteristics.
Conclusions
Atonic postpartum hemorrhage and severe atonic postpartum hemorrhage increased in British Columbia between 2000 and 2009. Further research is required to identify the cause of the increase.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-108
PMCID: PMC3534600  PMID: 23057683
8.  Modeling Fetal Weight for Gestational Age: A Comparison of a Flexible Multi-level Spline-based Model with Other Approaches 
We present a model for longitudinal measures of fetal weight as a function of gestational age. We use a linear mixed model, with a Box-Cox transformation of fetal weight values, and restricted cubic splines, in order to flexibly but parsimoniously model median fetal weight. We systematically compare our model to other proposed approaches. All proposed methods are shown to yield similar median estimates, as evidenced by overlapping pointwise confidence bands, except after 40 completed weeks, where our method seems to produce estimates more consistent with observed data. Sex-based stratification affects the estimates of the random effects variance-covariance structure, without significantly changing sex-specific fitted median values. We illustrate the benefits of including sex-gestational age interaction terms in the model over stratification. The comparison leads to the conclusion that the selection of a model for fetal weight for gestational age can be based on the specific goals and configuration of a given study without affecting the precision or value of median estimates for most gestational ages of interest.
doi:10.2202/1557-4679.1305
PMCID: PMC3173606  PMID: 21931571
multi-level models; fetal growth; small for gestational age
9.  Should Gestational Weight Gain Recommendations be Tailored by Maternal Characteristics? 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;174(2):136-146.
The authors tested whether the relation between gestational weight gain (GWG) and 5 adverse pregnancy outcomes (small-for-gestational-age (SGA) birth, large-for-gestational-age (LGA) birth, spontaneous preterm birth, indicated preterm birth, and unplanned cesarean delivery) differed according to maternal race/ethnicity, smoking, parity, age, and/or height. They also evaluated whether GWG guidelines should be modified for special populations by studying GWG and risk of at least 1 adverse outcome within different subgroups. Data came from a cohort of 23,362 normal-weight mothers who delivered singletons at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2003–2008). Adequacy of GWG was defined as observed GWG divided by recommended GWG. The synergy analysis found that the combination of smoking, black race/ethnicity, primiparity, or short height with poor GWG was associated with an excess risk of SGA birth, while high GWG combined with each of these characteristics diminished risk of LGA birth in comparison with the same GWG among the women's counterparts. Nevertheless, there were no significant or meaningful differences in the risk of at least 1 adverse outcome between the GWG recommended by the Institute of Medicine in 2009 and the GWG that minimized risk of the composite outcome. These findings do not support the tailoring of GWG guidelines on the basis of a mother's smoking status, race/ethnicity, parity, age, or height among normal-weight women.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwr064
PMCID: PMC3167680  PMID: 21633118
ethnic groups; gestational age; parity; practice guidelines as topic; pregnancy; smoking; weight gain
10.  Sudden infant death syndrome: a re-examination of temporal trends 
Background
While the reduction in infants’ prone sleeping has led to a temporal decline in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), some aspects of this trend remain unexplained. We assessed whether changes in the gestational age distribution of births also contributed to the temporal reduction in SIDS.
Methods
SIDS patterns among singleton and twin births in the United States were analysed in 1995–96 and 2004–05. The temporal reduction in SIDS was partitioned using the Kitagawa decomposition method into reductions due to changes in the gestational age distribution and reductions due to changes in gestational age-specific SIDS rates. Both the traditional and the fetuses-at-risk models were used.
Results
SIDS rates declined with increasing gestation under the traditional perinatal model. Rates were higher at early gestation among singletons compared with twins, while the reverse was true at later gestation. Under the fetuses-at-risk model, SIDS rates increased with increasing gestation and twins had higher rates of SIDS than singletons at all gestational ages. Between 1995–96 and 2004–05, SIDS declined from 8.3 to 5.6 per 10,000 live births among singletons and from 14.2 to 10.6 per 10,000 live births among twins. Decomposition using the traditional model showed that the SIDS reduction among singletons and twins was entirely due to changes in the gestational age-specific SIDS rate. The fetuses-at-risk model attributed 45% of the SIDS reduction to changes in the gestational age distribution and 55% of the reduction to changes in gestational age-specific SIDS rates among singletons; among twins these proportions were 64% and 36%, respectively.
Conclusion
Changes in the gestational age distribution may have contributed to the recent temporal reduction in SIDS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-59
PMCID: PMC3437219  PMID: 22747916
SIDS; Temporal trend; Gestational age
11.  Temporal trends in neonatal outcomes following iatrogenic preterm delivery 
Background
Preterm birth rates have increased substantially in the recent years mostly due to obstetric intervention. We studied the effects of increasing iatrogenic preterm birth on temporal trends in perinatal mortality and serious neonatal morbidity in the United States.
Methods
We used data on singleton and twin births in the United States, 1995-2005 (n = 36,399,333), to examine trends in stillbirths, neonatal deaths, and serious neonatal morbidity (5-minute Apgar ≤3, assisted ventilation ≥30 min and neonatal seizures). Preterm birth subtypes were identified using an algorithm that categorized live births <37 weeks into iatrogenic preterm births, births following premature rupture of membranes and spontaneous preterm births. Temporal changes were quantified using odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results
Among singletons, preterm birth increased from 7.3 to 8.8 per 100 live births from 1995 to 2005, while iatrogenic preterm birth increased from 2.2 to 3.7 per 100 live births. Stillbirth rates declined from 3.4 to 3.0 per 1,000 total births from 1995-96 to 2004-05, and neonatal mortality rates declined from 2.4 to 2.1 per 1,000 live births. Temporal declines in neonatal mortality/morbidity were most pronounced at 34-36 weeks gestation and larger among iatrogenic preterm births (OR = 0.75, CI 0.73-0.77) than among spontaneous preterm births (OR = 0.82, CI 0.80-0.84); P < 0.001. Similar patterns were observed among twins, with some notable differences.
Conclusion
Increases in iatrogenic preterm birth have been accompanied by declines in perinatal mortality. The temporal decline in neonatal mortality/serious neonatal morbidity has been larger among iatrogenic preterm births as compared with spontaneous preterm births.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-39
PMCID: PMC3130708  PMID: 21612655
12.  Insufficient Milk Supply and Breast Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8237.
Background
An association between insufficient milk supply, the inability of a mother's breast milk to provide sufficiently for her infant, and breast cancer has been suggested by observations in animal models. To determine if an association has been reported in epidemiological studies of human breast cancer, a systematic review of the literature has been conducted. We also sought to identify the methodological limitations of existing studies to guide the design of any future prospective studies in this field.
Methodology/Principal Findings
PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, BIOSIS, and CAB abstracts were searched. We selected any study that (1) assessed breast cancer in association with breastfeeding history and (2) examined the relationship between insufficient milk supply with breast cancer. Seven relevant studies were identified that met both criteria. There was statistically significant heterogeneity among the results which likely reflects clinically significant differences in definitions of insufficient milk supply and reference groups that were used. Among premenopausal women who had experienced insufficient milk supply, odds ratios (ORs) for breast cancer risk ranged from 0.9 to 16.3. Among postmenopausal women, ORs ranged from 0.6 to 6.7. Based on the range of odds ratios obtained in the studies reported in this review, it remains unclear if there is a true association between insufficient milk supply and breast cancer.
Conclusions/Significance
Although some studies have shown a strong positive association, there is no consistent evidence for an effect of insufficient milk supply on breast cancer risk. Exposure definitions are in need of improvement in order to focus on primary insufficient milk supply. Reference groups consisting of women who have successfully breastfed may also introduce positive bias (inflation of the odds ratio) into study results because of the protective effect of prolonged breastfeeding in the control group.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008237
PMCID: PMC2788215  PMID: 20011591
13.  Participation in organised sports does not slow declines in physical activity during adolescence 
Background
Among youth, participation in extracurricular physical activities at school and organised physical activities in the community is associated with higher physical activity levels. The objective was to determine if participation in organised physical activities during early adolescence protects against declines in physical activity levels during adolescence.
Methods
Every 3 months for 5 years, students initially in grade 7 (aged 12–13 years) completed a 7-day physical activity recall and provided data on the number and type of (extracurricular) physical activities organised at school and in the community in which they took part. To study rates of decline in physical activity, only adolescents who reported an average of ≥5 moderate-vigorous physical activity sessions per week in grade 7 (n = 1028) were retained for analyses. They were categorised as to whether or not they were involved in organised physical activities in grade 7. We used generalized estimating equation Poisson regression to compare the rate of decline in number of moderate-vigorous physical activity sessions per week during adolescence between initially physically active students who participated in organised physical activity in grade 7 and those who did not.
Results
In grade 7, about 87% of physically active adolescents reported taking part in at least one organised physical activity. Compared to active adolescents not involved in organised physical activities, baseline involvement in physical activity was 42% (95% CI 26–59%) higher among those involved in organised physical activity (mean number of moderate-vigorous physical activity sessions per week = 14.6 ± 13.1 vs 10.4 ± 9.0). Physical activity declined by 8% per year in both groups. Results were similar in analyses that examined the effect of school or community-based physical activities separately.
Conclusion
Although participation in organised physical activities during early adolescence is associated with more physical activity throughout secondary school, participation in such activities does not protect against declines in physical activity over time.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-6-22
PMCID: PMC2670258  PMID: 19335892
14.  Influence of definition based versus pragmatic birth registration on international comparisons of perinatal and infant mortality: population based retrospective study 
Objectives To examine variations in the registration of extremely low birthweight and early gestation births and to assess their effect on perinatal and infant mortality rankings of industrialised countries.
Design Retrospective population based study.
Setting Australia, Canada, European countries, and the United States for 2004; Australia, Canada, and New Zealand for 2007.
Population National data on live births and on fetal, neonatal, and infant deaths.
Main outcome measures Reported proportions of live births with birth weight/gestational age of less than 500 g, less than 1000 g, less than 24 weeks, and less than 28 weeks; crude rates of fetal, neonatal, and infant mortality; mortality rates calculated after exclusion of births under 500 g, under 1000 g, less than 24 weeks, and less than 28 weeks.
Results The proportion of live births under 500 g varied widely from less than 1 per 10 000 live births in Belgium and Ireland to 10.8 per 10 000 live births in Canada and 16.9 in the United States. Neonatal deaths under 500 g, as a proportion of all neonatal deaths, also ranged from less than 1% in countries such as Luxembourg and Malta to 29.6% in Canada and 31.1% in the United States. Rankings of countries based on crude fetal, neonatal, and infant mortality rates differed substantially from rankings based on rates calculated after exclusion of births with a birth weight of less than 1000 g or a gestational age of less than 28 weeks.
Conclusions International differences in reported rates of extremely low birthweight and very early gestation births probably reflect variations in registration of births and compromise the validity of international rankings of perinatal and infant mortality.
doi:10.1136/bmj.e746
PMCID: PMC3281499  PMID: 22344455

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