Perinatal mortality fell 10% last year


ESRI study:The State’s perinatal mortality rate fell by more than 10 per cent last year and is 27 per cent lower than a decade ago, according to an Economic and Social Research Institute study published today.

Perinatal mortality refers to deaths of a foetus or newborn between 22 weeks’ gestation and seven days after birth.

Despite the improvement – the rate fell from 8.4 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths in 2002 to 6.1 per 1,000 in 2011 – Ireland ranked 10th among 16 EU countries where the statistics were measured in 2011.

The highest rate was recorded in Bulgaria, at 11.7 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths. Portugal, at 3.8 per 1,000 live births and stillbirths, was lowest.

With 297 instances recorded, stillbirths accounted for 66 per cent of perinatal deaths in 2011. There were 153 early neonatal deaths, bringing the total number of perinatal deaths to 450 last year, the Perinatal Statistics Report found. This was down from 516 in 2010.

Fall in births

The total number of births fell last year by 1.6 per cent to 74,377. This compared to 76,300 in 2010 and a peak figure in the Irish baby boom in 2009 of 76,023.

The total number of births rose by 22.2 per cent over the last decade, and 24 per cent of births last year were to mothers born outside Ireland, up from 21 per cent in 2007. Some 47 per cent of mothers said they exclusively breastfed, compared to 45 per cent in 2007 and 41 per cent in 2002, with the highest rates among women aged 30-34.

The rise has seemingly been driven by mothers born outside Ireland having children here, with 78.4 per cent of mothers from the EU15 (excluding Ireland and the UK) saying they breastfed.