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Premature Births

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many premature births there have been in each year since 1979 (a) in total and (b) expressed as a proportion of all births. (90295)

Information on the number of premature births between 1979 and 1988 is not collected centrally. Information on the number of pre-term births in each year since 1989 is shown in the following table.

Number of pre-term deliveries and as a proportion of all deliveries, NHS hospitals, England, 1989-2004, type of episode: (2) Delivery episode and (5) Other delivery event

Deliveries less than 37 weeks gestation length

Total deliveries

Deliveries less than 37 weeks gestation length as a percentage of all deliveries

2004-05

26,505

597,947

4

2003-04

25,293

583,757

4

2002-03

23,122

556,658

4

2001-02

32,545

546,982

6

2000-01

27,226

538,890

5

1999-2000

29,519

567,806

5

1989-99

26,450

606,736

4

1997-98

23,268

599,755

4

1996-97

28,601

620,903

5

1995-96

30,976

577,254

5

1994-95

82,464

643,607

13

1993-94

27,652

594,045

5

1992-93

30,824

593,195

5

1991-92

27,269

586,948

5

1990-91

20,439

564,480

4

1989-90

20,323

499,890

4

Notes:

1. There are a large proportion of deliveries with unknown gestation length, therefore these figures should be interpreted with caution as the percentage of unknowns vary from 23 per cent. to 50 per cent. from year to year.

2. The term premature is no longer in use. Births completed before 37 weeks of gestation are defined as pre-term.

Finished consultant episode (FCE):

An FCE is defined as a period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. Please note that the figures do not represent the number of patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the year.

Data quality:

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by over 300 national health service trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England. The information centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.

Source:

HES, The Information Centre for health and social care