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Open Access Research article

Estimation of optimal birth weights and gestational ages for twin births in Japan

Noriko Kato1* and Tomohiro Matsuda2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Education Training Technology and Development, National Institute of Public Health, 2-3-6 Minami, Wako-shi, Saitama, 351-0197, Japan

2 Department of Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health, 2-3-6 Minami, Wako-shi, Saitama, 351-0197, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:45  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-45

Published: 24 February 2006

Abstract

Background

As multiple pregnancies show a higher incidence of complications than singletons and carry a higher perinatal risk, the calculation of birth weight – and gestational age (GA)-specific perinatal mortality rates (PMR) for multiple births is necessary in order to estimate the lowest PMR for these groups.

Methods

Details of all reported twins (192,987 live births, 5,539 stillbirths and 1,830 early neonatal deaths) in Japan between 1990 and 1999 were analyzed and compared with singletons (10,021,275 live births, 63,972 fetal deaths and 16,862 early neonatal deaths) in the annual report of vital statistics of Japan. The fetal death rate (FDR) and PMR were calculated for each category of birth weight at 500-gram intervals and GA at four-week intervals. The FDR according to birth weight and GA category was calculated as fetal deaths/(fetal deaths + live births) × 1000. The perinatal mortality rate (PMR) according to birth weight and GA category, was calculated as (fetal deaths + early neonatal deaths)/(fetal deaths + live births) × 1000. Within each category, the lowest FDR and PMR were assigned with a relative risk (RR) of 1.0 as a reference and all other rates within each category were compared to this lowest rate.

Results

The overall PMR per 1,000 births for singletons was 6.9, and the lowest PMR was 1.1 for birth weight (3.5–4.0 kg) and GA (40- weeks). For twins, the overall PMR per 1,000 births was 36.8, and the lowest PMR was 3.9 for birth weight (2.5–3.0 kg) and GA (36–39 weeks). At optimal birth weight and GA, the PMR was reduced to 15.9 percent for singletons, and 10.6 percent for twins, compared to the overall PMR. The risk of perinatal mortality was greater in twins than in singletons at the same deviation from the ideal category of each plurality.

Conclusion

PMRs are potentially reduced by attaining the ideal birth weight and GA. More than 90 percent of mortality could be reduced by attaining the optimal GA and birth weight in twins by taking particular care to ensure appropriate pregnancy weight gain, as well as adequate control for obstetric complications.