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What factors predict differences in infant and perintal mortality in primary care trusts in England? A prognostic model.

To identify predictors of perinatal and infant mortality variations between primary care trusts (PCTs) in England prognostic multivariable mixed models were used. For each PCT, data on the number of infant and perinatal deaths, ethnicity, deprivation, maternal age, PCT spending on maternal services, and "Spearhead" status (those PCTs with the worst health and deprivation indicators requiring special attention) were collected.

The final models for infant mortality and perinatal mortality included measures of deprivation, ethnicity, and maternal age. The final model for infant mortality explained 70% of the observed heterogeneity in outcome between PCTs. The final model for perinatal mortality explained 80.5% of the between-PCT heterogeneity.

PCT spending on maternal services did not explain differences in observed events. Two PCTs had higher than expected rates of perinatal mortality. Social deprivation, ethnicity, and maternal age are important predictors of infant and perinatal mortality. Spearhead PCTs are performing in line with expectations given their levels of deprivation, ethnicity, and maternal age. Higher spending on maternity services using the current configuration of services may not reduce rates of infant and perinatal mortality.

Nick Freemantle
J Wood
C Griffin
British Medical Journal