Better statistics for better health

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Editorial in France

How perinatal health in France compared with other European countries in 2015: some progress but also some concerns about newborn health by Béatrice Blondel, Mélanie Durox and Jennifer Zeitlin.



This editorial compares Euro-Peristat’s perinatal health indicators in France with other European countries to assess its strengths and weaknesses. The authors, members of the Euro-Peristat coordination team in France, express concern about indicators of newborn health. In 2015, the stillbirth rate was 3.0 per 1000, a rank of 22 out of 33 countries, and stillbirth rates in 2015 were not significantly lower than in 2010. The neonatal mortality rate among all live born children was 2.4 per 1000, yielding the same relative position of 22 out of 33. Neonatal mortality remained stable between 2010 and 2015 while decreases were observed in many other countries. Data currently available in routine information systems in France are insufficient for investigating the reasons for stagnating mortality rates, leading the authors to call for audits of perinatal deaths and reinforced health registers.

More favourably, France has a caesarean rate of 20.2%, in 7th place out of 33 countries. The rate has remained stable in France since 2010, while significant increases have been found elsewhere. This is seen as reflecting the efforts of health professionals who have been working together to promote evidence-based guidelines for caesarean section. The authors note that “countries with low caesarean delivery rates (Finland and Norway, for example) are also those with the lowest fetal and neonatal mortality rates. This observation argues against concerns that the level of mortality in France may be explained in part by the lower caesarean section rates.”

For more analysis and data on other indicators, the editorial is available here:

J Gynecol Obstet Hum Reprod. 2019 Jan 25. pii: S2468-7847(19)30030-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jogoh.2019.01.013.


Arch Pediatr. 2019 Jul 4. pii: S0929-693X(19)30104-6. doi: 10.1016/j.arcped.2019.06.001.




Euro-Peristat participates in the InfAct project, the new Joint Action on Health Information. 

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