European Perinatal Health Report, 2015-2019

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The health of newborn babies and their mothers are key indicators of the health and wellbeing of populations. Although stillbirth and infant mortality rates have fallen substantially in recent decades, the burden of mortality and morbidity remains a public health priority in Europe and there is high variability in birth outcomes between countries.

Because the countries of Europe share comparable standards of living and generally well-developed healthcare systems, but are very diverse in their health policies and practices, examining differences in perinatal indicators can shed light on the policies and practices that counteract health risks and optimise the health of parents and babies. These indicators may also allow countries to benchmark their performance and identify areas where progress is needed.

One of the obstacles to comparing European countries is that they collect their national statistics in different ways, so it is difficult to make valid comparisons. The Euro-Peristat collaboration was established to deal with this problem. The network defined a set of 10 core and 20 recommended indicators and developed methods to produce high quality, comparable indicators using common inclusion criteria and categories with the help of experts from member countries.

In this report, the fifth by the network, participating members in 24 European Union member states and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom contributed data on nine Euro-Peristat core indicators for the five years from 2015 to 2019. Data collection was carried out as part of a larger European Horizon 2020 project, the Population Health Information Research Infrastructure (PHIRI) project, which aims to structure and to promote exchange of population data between European countries. Data were collected from national statistical systems using a new federated data collection protocol which improves harmonisation of indicators.

This new approach requires that all data be available in one source, which was a limit for some countries. Further, the new data collection protocol is not readily adaptable for the recording of very rare events, such as maternal death, therefore maternal mortality (Euro-Peristat’s Core Indicator 6) is not included in this report.