Objectives: This study concerns the possible effect of practice of prenatal screening of congenital anomalies followed by termination of pregnancy on the perinatal mortality between European countries.
Methods: Data of nine region-specific EUROCAT registries from five European countries were used to compare the pregnancy termination rate and perinatal mortality due to congenital anomalies between the registries. The impact of pregnancy terminations on the perinatal mortality rate was estimated using a calculated lethality for each congenital anomaly in the hypothetical case that no pregnancy terminations had been performed and was expressed in the 'natural' perinatal mortality rate.
Results: There are large differences between the EUROCAT registries in the number of pregnancy terminations for congenital anomalies. The difference between the 'natural' and regular perinatal mortality rate vary between 3.7 and 14.1 per 10 000 live births and stillbirths. The difference is greater in regions where prenatal screening is more common than in regions where this is not common.
Conclusion: Differences in practice of prenatal screening and termination of pregnancy of congenital anomalies contribute to the variations in the overall perinatal mortality rate between European regions and countries.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.