OBJECTIVE: To determine changes in the incidence of vaginal deliveries, cesarean sections, and forceps deliveries and their potential association with fetal, early neonatal, and perinatal mortality rates over time. METHODS: A retrospective study was carried out and the occurrence of deliveries supervised by university services between January 1991 and December 2000 was determined. Data regarding fetal, early neonatal, and perinatal deaths were assessed using obstetric and pediatric records and autopsy reports. RESULTS: Of a total of 33,360 deliveries, the incidence of vaginal deliveries, cesarean sections, and forceps deliveries was relatively steady (around 60, 30, and 10%, respectively) while, at the same time, there was a marked reduction in fetal mortality (from 33.3 to 13.0‰), early neonatal mortality (from 30.6 to 9.0‰), and perinatal mortality (from 56.4 to 19.3‰). CONCLUSIONS: The marked reduction in perinatal mortality rates seen during the study period without an increase in cesarean sections indicates that the decrease in perinatal mortality was not impacted by cesarean section rates. The plausible hypothesis seems to be that the reduction in perinatal mortality of deliveries performed under the supervision of university services was more likely to be associated with better neonatal care rather than the mode of delivery.
Cesarean section; Natural childbirth; Perinatal mortality (public health); Fetal mortality; Neonatal mortality (public health); Vaginal delivery