Dutch baby death rate drops over 20 years, as better screening pays off

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Efforts to reduce the number of babies dying in the Netherlands before their first birthday have had an effect, with the death rate shrinking from 5.1 babies per 1,000 live births to 3.6 over the past 20 years.

Last year, 617 of the 170,000 babies born in the Netherlands died before reaching the age of one, compared with around 1,000 at the turn of the century. In three-quarters of baby deaths, the child dies in the first 28 days of life.

The CBS says the decline is due to better prenatal screening, fewer mothers under the age of 20 – a major risk group – and a drop in the number of multiple births. Recommendations to eliminate cot death would also appear to be paying off, the CBS said.

Between 10 and 20 babies now die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the Netherlands a year, according to research published in 2018 by the University of Twente. But in the 1980s the figure was was as high as 190, when the fashion was to put babies to sleep on their stomachs.

The Dutch baby death rate is now around the average in Europe, with Estland, Slovenia and Sweden leading the way at two deaths per 1,000 live births or less.

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