Neonatal mortality: bad record of France

Publié le : 4 June 2013

 According to "Euro-Peristat", the European report on perinatal health coordinated by INSERM and made public on 27 May, France has the highest rate of stillborn children in Europe. This report brings together the data concerning the health and medical treatment of pregnant women and newborn children for 2010 in 26 Member States of the European Union as well as in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. It shows that the stillbirth rate in France, i.e. the number of stillborn children was, as in 2003, the highest in Europe: 9.2 for 1,000 births. INSERM explains this rate by the fact that "40 to 50% of stillbirths in France are attributable to medical terminations of pregnancy (MTP)." This rate is significantly higher than what can be observed in the other countries which "distinguish the MTP from stillbirths and carry out more MTP before 22 weeks [not counted in the report]." But INSERM, explains this high rate also "by the very active policy of screening for congenital disorders and the recourse to MPT at a relatively late stage.

Furthermore, the rate for prematurity [births before 37 weeks of gestation] is high in France and the phenomenon is even increasing: between 2003 and 2010, the rate rose from 6.3 to 6.6% of live births, putting France in 10th place. Prof. François Goffinet distinguishes several factors affecting neonatal mortality and prematurity, even though they do not explain all the cases involved: the increasing age of mothers: "over 19% of pregnant women are now over 35, compared to less than 16% in the previous survey," obesity which affects the health of the mother and the newborn, and lastly smoking, which increases the risk of prematurity and cot death. Lastly, the organisation of medical care and practices and the way women are treated could have an influence. 

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