Objective: To study perinatal and neonatal mortality of very preterm infants and to assess the association with birth weight and multiple births.
Methods: Infants enrolled in the Epipage study born between 22 and 32 weeks gestational age in 9 French regions in 1997 were included in this study. The main outcome measure was stillbirth and death before discharge from hospital.
Results: During the study period, 4397 births and therapeutic abortions meeting the inclusion criteria were recorded (including 16% therapeutic abortions and 18% stillbirths). Survival rate for babies born between 22 and 32 weeks was 67% of all births (stillborn + liveborn) and 85% among livebirths. Survival rose with increasing gestational age: survival (livebirths) was 50% at 25 weeks gestation, 78% at 28 weeks and 97% at 32 weeks. Survival was lower for infants with a birthweight below the 10th percentile and for multiple-pregnancy infants. The different stages of the follow-up planned up to 5 years are presented together with the response rate to the postal follow-up questionnaire.
Conclusion: This cohort provides mortality data on very premature infants during pregnancy, at birth, during hospitalization before discharge. Survival of liveborn infants was stratified by gestational age and was consistent with other geographically based studies of very preterm infants born in the 1990s.