Objective: To study trends in the main indicators of health, medical practice and risk factors in France. Population and method. A sample of all births during one week was set up in 1995 (N=13,318), 1998 (N=13,718) et 2003 (N=14,737). We compared data from these three years.
Results: Between 1995 and 2003, there was an increase in maternal age, a development of some characteristics of care (HIV screening procedure, maternal serum screening of Down syndrome, in utero transfers) and an increase in the proportion of caesarean sections, epidurals and spinal anesthesia. The proportion of livebirths before 37 weeks of gestation and the proportion of newborns under 2,500 g slightly increased but the differences were mainly between 1995 et 1998. In 2003, obstetrician gynecologists were the main care providers during pregnancy. However 24.3% of women had their first visit with a general practitioner. For the following visits, 15.4% of women had seen a GP at least once and 26.9% had seen a midwife in maternity unit at least once.
Conclusion: Because of the trends in obstetrical practice and organisation of services, routine national perinatal surveys are useful to show major changes and yield quick answers to specific questions.