Objective: Comparison of perinatal mortality in The Netherlands with that in other European countries (Peristat-II), and with data collected 5 years previously (Peristat-I).
Design: Descriptive study.
Method: Indicators ofperinatal mortality which were developed for Peristat-I were used again in Peristat-II. Data on perinatal mortality in 2004 were delivered by 26 European countries. The Dutch data originated from national registers of midwives and gynaecologists and the National Neonatology Register.
Results: In Peristat-I, from 22 weeks gestation, The Netherlands had the highest fetal mortality rate (7.4 per 1,000 total number of births). Furthermore, after Greece, The Netherlands had the highest early neonatal mortality rate (3.5 per 1,000 live births). In Peristat-II from 22 weeks gestation, after France, The Netherlands had the highest fetal mortality rate (7.0 per 1,000 total number of births). Of all western European countries, The Netherlands had the highest early neonatal mortality rate (3.0 per 1,000 live births). Over the past 5 years the perinatal mortality rate in The Netherlands has dropped from 10.9 to 10.0 per 1,000 total births but this drop has been faster in other countries.
Conclusion: The Netherlands has a relatively high number of older mothers and multiple pregnancies, but this only partly explains the high Dutch perinatal mortality rate which still ranks unfavourably in the European tables. More research is necessary to gain insight into the prevalence of risk factors for perinatal mortality compared with other European countries. In addition, perinatal health and the quality ofperinatal healthcare deserve a more prominent position in Dutch research programmes.