Objective: To describe a birth cohort which started in 2004, aiming to assess pre and perinatal conditions of the newborns, infant morbimortality, early life characteristics and outcomes, and access, use and financing of health care.
Methods: All children born in the urban area of Pelotas and Capão do Leão municipalities (Southern Brazil) in 2004 were identified and their mothers invited to join the study. In the first year of the study the children were seen at birth, at three and 12 months of age. These visits involved the application of a questionnaire to the mothers including questions on health; life style; use of health services; socioeconomic situation; estimation of gestational age; anthropometric measurements on the newborn (weight, length, head, chest and abdominal circumferences); anthropometric measurements on the mother (weight and height) and assessment of infant development.
Results: Out of the eligible infants (4,558), more than 99% were recruited to the study at birth. Follow-up rates were 96% at three months and 94% at 12 months of age. Among the initial results we highlight the following. Infant mortality rate was 19.7 per thousand, with 66% of infant deaths occurring in the neonatal period. There were frequencies of 15% premature babies and 10% low birthweight. Cesarean sections represented 45% of deliveries.
Conclusions: The third Pelotas birth cohort showed an infant mortality rate similar to that of 11 years ago, with most deaths occurring in the neonatal period. The rates of prematurity and cesarean sections increased substantially.