In Luxembourg, exhaustive data from all maternities and independent midwives is collected and analysed to obtain an overview of the state of health of mothers and babies. In May 2016, LIH published a report on national perinatal health for the years 2011 to 2013 in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The report highlights that Luxembourg provides quality healthcare to pregnant women, mothers and babies, and reveals relevant evolutions for variables such as birth rate, foetal and neonatal mortality and risk factors.
Since the 1980s, when data recording started in Luxembourg, the perinatal health surveillance system has greatly evolved. Importantly, data collection is entirely computerised since 2009 with the introduction of a data-entry software named DIANE in all maternities. In 2005, the PERINAT network, an exchange platform composed of public health decision makers and professionals from different domains, was formed. The actors of this network stimulate the maintenance of quality standards, the further development of the surveillance system as well as the continuous improvement of healthcare practices.
‘With our surveillance system we are able to collect annual quality data on all pregnancies and births on the territory as well as on all new-born infants hospitalised in a neonatology service’, tells Aline Lecomte, project leader. ‘We get nationwide data on core indictors of perinatal health. This data completeness is unique in Europe’, she stresses. The recently published report shows that the number of births registered in Luxembourg is steadily rising, which can be mainly explained by the growing of the country’s population and an increase in the number of non-residents giving birth in Luxembourg. Whereas there were slightly more than 6200 deliveries in 2011, there were almost 6700 in 2013.
To highlight a few findings: A slight increase was recorded for the average age at which women give birth. It had remained stable for around ten years, but in 2012, it went for the first time above 31. When analysing modes of delivery, it was found that the Caesarean section rate was relatively high in Luxembourg with 30.5 to 31% in 2011-2013. Only 6 other European countries have a Caesarean section rate above 30%. A working group has recently been designated to study the reasons for this elevated percentage. An optimistic result is that the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their baby remains high with almost 90%.
The report also assessed health risks related to life style. It shows for example that the proportion of women who continue smoking during pregnancy went slightly down. 15 to 16% declared to smoke daily or occasionally during their pregnancy. More than 20% of the women who still smoked during the 1st trimester of pregnancy did not smoke anymore during the last. These numbers could be considered as satisfying but, given the correlation that exists between smoking and low birth weight, measures should be taken to further decrease smoking during pregnancy. The authors suggests that more frequent and targeted anti-smoking campaigns could be helpful. Regarding occasional alcohol consumption, a slight decrease could be noted over the three years, from 8.4% in 2011 to 5.5% in 2013.
‘Our report is distributed to all the members of the Perinat network: gynaecologists, neonatologists, paediatricians, midwifes and nurses’, emphasises Ms Lecomte ‘It will allow the health professionals to evaluate and further improve the quality of medical follow-up and logistics. This is the third report that we have published and we aim to continue publishing one every three years.’
Download the report here.