Methodological Challenges in International Comparisons of Perinatal Mortality
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Purpose of reviewSeveral prestigious agencies routinely rank countries based on crude perinatal and infant mortality rates, while more recently, international neonatal networks have begun comparing neonatal mortality and morbidity rates among very preterm and very low-birth-weight infants. We discuss the methodologic challenges that compromise such comparisons and potential remedies.
Recent findingsCrude perinatal mortality rates are biased by international variations in birth registration, especially at the borderline of viability. Such bias is demonstrated by significant differences in crude versus birth weight- and gestational age-specific comparisons of perinatal mortality. Comparisons of neonatal mortality among very preterm and very low-birth-weight infants are plagued by incorrect denominators, and this leads to paradoxical findings.
SummaryA lack of standardization with regard to birth registration and inadequate appreciation of the methods for calculating gestational age-specific mortality rates are responsible for biasing international comparisons of perinatal mortality.