Research Article

Perinatal death recording: time for a change?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 28 February 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:707
  1. M J Scott,
  2. J W Ritchie,
  3. B G McClure,
  4. M M Reid,
  5. H L Halliday


    The new perinatal death certificate proposed by the World Health Organisation was examined in relation to existing measures for recording perinatal death statistics and also with regard to new information gathered. Present procedures appear to underestimate the number of perinatal deaths by roughly 10%, though late registrations may lower this figure slightly. The use of a minimum birth weight as the criterion for inclusion in perinatal statistics removed much of the uncertainty associated with definitions of live birth and stillbirth. The new certificate led to duplication of some information already recorded through birth notification yet failed to provide information on some other factors generally considered relevant to perinatal mortality. The format proposed for recording cause of death provided a more logical presentation of events. Standardizing birth information recorded on all infants, modifying death certificates, and developing efficient record-linkage schemes would be more valuable than introducing the WHO certificate. Useful interpretation of the meaning of the characteristics of infants dying in the perinatal period awaits these timely changes.