The association between preterm labour, perinatal mortality and infant death (during the first year) in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, South Africa

Brink, L. T. ; Gebhardt, G. S. ; Mason, D. ; Groenewald, C. A. ; Odendaal, H. J. (2019)

CITATION: Brink, L. T., et al. 2021. The association between preterm labour, perinatal mortality and infant death (during the first year) in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, South Africa. South African Medical Journal, 109(2):102-106, doi:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i2.13438.

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Background. We present further analyses from the Safe Passage Study, where the effect of alcohol exposure during pregnancy on sudden infant death syndrome and stillbirth was investigated. Objectives. To describe pregnancy and neonatal outcome in a large prospective study where information on the outcome of pregnancy was known in >98.3% of participants and ultrasound was used to determine gestational age (GA). Methods. As part of the Safe Passage Study of the PASS Network in Cape Town, South Africa, the outcomes of 6 866 singleton pregnancies were prospectively followed from recruitment in early pregnancy until the infant was 12 months old to assess pregnancy outcome. Fetal growth was assessed by z-scores of the birth weight, and GA at birth was derived from early ultrasound assessments. The effects of fetal growth restriction and preterm delivery on pregnancy outcome were determined. Results. There were 66 miscarriages, 107 stillbirths at ≥22 weeks’ gestation, 66 stillbirths at ≥28 weeks’ gestation, 29 and 18 neonatal deaths at ≥22 and ≥28 weeks’ gestation, respectively, and 54 post-neonatal deaths (28 days - 12 months). The miscarriage rate was 9.6/1 000 and the infant mortality rate 12.4/1 000. Of the births, 13.8% were preterm. For deliveries at ≥22 and ≥28 weeks, the stillbirth rates were 15.7 and 9.8/1 000 deliveries, respectively. For deliveries at ≥22 and ≥28 weeks, the neonatal death rates were 4.3 and 2.7/1 000 live births, respectively. For these pregnancies the perinatal mortality rates were 20.0/1 000 (≥22 weeks) and 12.5/1 000 (≥28 weeks), respectively. Only 15.9% of stillbirths occurred during labour (in 15.9% of cases it was uncertain whether death had occurred during labour). In the majority of cases (68.2%) fetal death occurred before labour, and 82.2% of stillbirths and 62.1% of neonatal deaths occurred in deliveries before 37 weeks. Including the miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths, there were 256 pregnancy losses; 77.3% were associated with deliveries before 37 weeks. Only 1.8% of all the women were HIV-positive, whereas the HIV-positive rate was 3.7% among those who had stillbirths. Birth weight was below the 10th centile in 25.6% of neonatal and post-neonatal deaths compared with 17.7% of survivors. Conclusions. Preterm birth and fetal growth restriction play significant roles in fetal, neonatal and infant losses.

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