Tuesday 21 August 2018

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Perinatal deaths at ‘lowest rate’

Thursday, 9th August, 2018 9:17am

Over half of mothers who experienced perinatal loss in 2016 were either overweight or obese, a new Cork report has revealed.

However the report also found that the number of perinatal deaths in Ireland is at its lowest rate since recordings began.

The new report from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC), based in UCC, found that low birthweight is associated with perinatal death, which refers to the death of babies in the weeks before or after birth and includes stillbirths (babies born with no signs of life after 24 weeks of pregnancy or weighing at least 500 grams) and neonatal deaths (deaths of live-born babies within 28 days following birth).

NPEC’s report on Perinatal Mortality in Ireland (2016) found that the perinatal mortality rate (PMR) was 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births or 1 in 172 births, representing a statistically significant decrease in the perinatal mortality rate compared to 2015, a 15 per cent decrease, and the lowest PMR since recordings began.

The most significant rate decrease was in early neonatal deaths.

Almost half of all stillbirths and 25 per cent of early neonatal deaths were classified as severely small for gestational age. This highlights the importance of close monitoring for fetal growth during pregnancy.

Increased body mass index is associated with perinatal mortality. Over half of the mothers who experienced perinatal loss in 2016 were either overweight or obese.

Professor Richard Greene, Director of NPEC, said: “It is wonderful to see the clear reduction in perinatal mortality described in this report. While this finding is just one for one year, we would hope that this trend continues in the future. However, it is important that we do not focus on rates and numbers alone. We should remember that each perinatal death has a profound effect on a mother, a father and the extended family.

“The most heartening aspect about this report is the amazing commitment of the busy Irish maternity units to go beyond clinical care and contribute to this national audit to help improve perinatal outcomes for mothers, babies and their families. The maternity services are leaders in the area of clinical review and audit,” he added.

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