Editorials

International comparisons of perinatal indicators

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e477 (Published 17 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e477
  1. Russell S Kirby, professor
  1. 1Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida College of Public Health, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
  1. rkirby{at}health.usf.edu

The real story lies behind the numbers

The media intermittently remind us that no matter how good we think we have it, those in other nations or regions have it better or worse, whether the indicator is life expectancy, premature mortality, survival with chronic disease or disability, or perinatal measures. Regardless of whether they are based on national statistics, reports from the World Health Organization, or reports from other international agencies, these stories are generally presented along similar lines: states, provinces, or nations are ranked from best to worst. Pundits, politicians, and health experts then expound on the implications of these results for the future of their jurisdictions.

In their linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.e746), Joseph and colleagues present direct comparisons of cross national perinatal indicators.1 They compared proportions of live births of babies born under 500 g, under 1000 g, at less than 24 weeks’ gestation, and at less than 28 weeks’ gestation across 25 nations in Europe and North America for the calendar year 2004. They also recalculated overall neonatal, infant, and fetal …

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