Perinatal mortality still fails to drop

In France, the number of children born without life or who died during the first 7 days of life amounts to 10.2 per thousand births, according to hospital data.

The perinatal mortality rate is the ratio between the number of babies born without life and babies who die during the first 7 days following their birth, and the total number of children born alive after 22 weeks of gestation. In 2019, this rate was 10.2 per thousand births. It was 10.4 ‰ in 2018 and 10.6 ‰ in 2017, reports the Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) in a new study.

In 2019, 742,044 births were recorded, which gave birth to 748,121 live newborns and 6,388 stillbirths. The stillbirth rate (children born lifeless by spontaneous fetal death or medical termination of pregnancy) was 8.5 per 1000 total births in 2019, down very slightly after 4 very stable years, close to 9 per 1000. Stillbirth is very dependent on gestational age, number of fetuses and mother’s age. The stillbirth rate per spontaneous fetal death is 5.2 per thousand and represents 61% of stillbirths.

Just over 1,000 deaths in the week after birth

The data from the DREES also provide the figures for the early neonatal mortality, that is to say the number of deaths that occurred in the first 7 days of life. In 2019, the early neonatal mortality rate was 1.7 per 1,000 live births, or 1,302 early neonatal deaths.

Almost half of deaths occur within moments of birth, and the probability of dying decreases sharply with the child’s age: in 2019, 45% of early neonatal deaths occur on the day of birth, 13 % the next day and 10% the day after.

France ranked 20th in Europe

In 2015, the latest year for which European figures are available, France ranked 20th in Europe (out of 33 countries) for spontaneous stillbirths and neonatal mortality. Likewise, the rates of neonatal mortality (0 to 27 days) and early neonatal mortality based on civil status data did not decrease between 2010 and 2015, unlike other European countries, placing France in a unfavorable situation, respectively 20th out of 30 countries and 18th out of 31 countries.

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