Objective: To study trends in the main indicators of health, medical practice and risk factors.
Population and method: We compared two samples; both included all stillbirths and live births during one week in France: 13,318 in 1995 and 13,718 in 1998.
Results: Between 1995 and 1998, there was an increase in maternal age, a development of some characteristics of care (antenatal care by maternity unit staff, HIV screening procedure, antenatal classes) and an increase in the proportion of caesarean sections and epidurals. The proportion of live births before 37 weeks of gestation increased from 5.4% to 6.2%. This trend is explained by an increase in preterm deliveries among twins. Specific questions in the 1998 questionnaire showed that 6.3% of women had received fertility treatment before this pregnancy, 11.1% had an amniocentesis, and 1.1% had an intrauterine transfer.
Conclusion: This type of survey carried out every three years can show major changes in health, risk factors and medical practices and can yield quick answers to specific questions.