Objective: To evaluate a policy designed to regionalize perinatal care in the Seine-Saint-Denis department of France.
Methods: The place of birth of every preterm infant (born before 33 weeks gestation) in 1998-1999 was compared with that for the period of 1989-1992. The 1989-1992 data came from a prenatal mortality study. For the 1998-1999 period, we used data from an area-based birth registry recording an experimental health certificate.
Results: In 1989-1992, 40% of live births before 33 weeks gestation took place in level I maternity units, 37.2% in level II maternity units, and 13.0% in level III maternity units. In 1998-1999, 5.4% took place in level I maternity units, 28.9% in level II maternity units and 65.1% in level III maternity units. The number of postnatal transfers of very preterm infants declined markedly. In 1998-1999, 109 pregnant women were transferred to a level III maternity hospital. This constituted 1.2% of the women who gave birth in Seine-Saint-Denis during this period.
Conclusion: The policy to regionalize perinatal care and increase maternal transfers was well accepted and successfully implemented. The delivery of very preterm infants in maternity hospitals without neonatal units became a rare event.