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Number of perinatal deaths per day almost mirrors number of murders

04 April 2018 - 06:00 By Nico Gous
Perinatal deaths peaked in 2009 with 25‚389‚ or 69 per day.
Perinatal deaths peaked in 2009 with 25‚389‚ or 69 per day.
Image: 123RF/Cathy Yeulet

The number of perinatal deaths per day in South Africa in 2016 almost mirrored the number of South Africans murdered daily in 2016/17.

Stats SA found 18‚683 perinatal deaths occurred in 2016‚ or 51 per day. This was a 12.6% decline from 2015. According to police crime statistics‚ 52.1 people were murdered daily in 2016/17.

Perinatal deaths peaked in 2009 with 25‚389‚ or 69 per day‚ and decreased by 26.4% between 2009 and 2016.

Stats SA released the number of perinatal deaths from 1997 to 2016 on Wednesday last week.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines perinatal deaths as stillbirths and deaths between 23 weeks of pregnancy and seven days after birth.

The information was obtained from the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) civil registration system.

Just more than six in every 10 (64%) perinatal deaths were due to stillbirths.

Almost seven out of 10 (69.8%) of early neonatal deaths occurred in the first three days with 2‚363 deaths on day one (35.2%)‚ 1‚320 deaths on day two (19.6%) and 1‚008 deaths on day three (15%).

The national average showed there were 124 male stillbirths for every 100 female stillbirths and 126 male perinatal deaths per 100 female perinatal deaths. In 2016 there were 21 perinatal deaths‚ 7.7 early neonatal deaths and 13.5 stillbirths for every 1‚000 births.

The most common cause of death in 2016 was “other natural causes” (57.7%). Next were perinatal deaths due to the fetus or newborn being affected by maternal factors and complications during pregnancy‚ labour or delivery‚ with three in every 10 (30.2%) dying.

About one in 20 children (5.1%) died because of respiratory and cardiovascular disorders “specific to the perinatal period”.