n South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology - Why babies die - a perinatal care survey of South Africa, 2000 - 2002




<I>Objective.</I> To identify the major causes of perinatal mortality in South Africa. <br><I>Setting.</I> Seventy-three state hospitals throughout South Africa representing metropolitan areas, cities and towns and rural areas. <br><I>Method.</I> Users of the Perinatal Problem Identification Programme (PPIP) amalgamated their data to provide descriptive information on the causes of perinatal death and the avoidable factors, missed opportunities and substandard care in South Africa. <br><I>Results.</I> A total of 8 085 perinatal deaths among babies weighing 1 000 g or more were reported from 232 718 births at the PPIP user sites. The perinatal mortality rates for the metropolitan, city and town, and rural groupings were 36.2, 38.6 and 26.7/1 000 births, respectively. The neonatal death rate was highest in the city and town group (14.5/1 000 live births) followed by the rural and metropolitan groups (11.3 and 10.0/1 000 live births respectively). The low birth weight rate was highest in the metropolitan group (19.6%), followed by the city and town group (16.5%) and the rural group (13.0%). The most common primary cause of perinatal death in the rural group was intrapartum asphyxia and birth trauma (rate 6.92/1 000 births) followed by spontaneous preterm delivery (5.37/1 000 births). The most common primary cause of death in the city and town group was spontaneous preterm delivery (6.79/1 000 births) followed by intrapartum asphyxia and birth trauma (6.21/1 000 births) and antepartum haemorrhage (5.7/1 000 births). The metropolitan group's most common primary causes were antepartum haemorrhage (7.14/1 000 births), complications of hypertension in pregnancy (5.09/1000 births) and spontaneous preterm labour (4.01/1 000 births). Unexplained intrauterine deaths were the most common recorded primary obstetric cause of death in all areas. Complications of prematurity and hypoxia were the most common final causes of neonatal death in all groups. <br><I>Conclusion.</I> Intrapartum asphyxia, birth trauma, antepartum haemorrhage, complications of hypertension in pregnancy and spontaneous preterm labour account for more than 80% of the primary obstetric causes of death.


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