Table 15


     Table 15 presents late foetal deaths and late foetal‑death ratios by urban/rural residence for as many years as possible between 1990 and 1998.


Description of variables: Late foetal deaths are foetal deaths[1] of 28 or more completed weeks of gestation.  Foetal deaths of unknown gestational age are included with those 28 or more weeks.


Statistics on the number of late foetal deaths are obtained from civil registers unless otherwise noted.


The urban/rural classification of late foetal deaths is the one provided by each country or area; it is presumed to be based on the national census definitions of urban population.


Ratio computation: Late foetal‑death ratios are the annual number of late foetal deaths per 1 000 live births (as shown in table 1) in the same year. The live‑birth base was adopted because it is assumed to be more comparable from one country or area to another than the combination of live births and foetal deaths.


Ratios by urban/rural residence are the annual number of late foetal deaths, in the appropriate urban or rural category, per 1 000 corresponding live births (as shown in table 1).


Ratios presented in this table have been limited to those countries or areas having at least a total of 1 000 late foetal deaths in a given year.


     These ratios have been computed by the Statistics Division of the United Nations.


Reliability of data: Each country or area has been asked to indicate the estimated completeness of the late foetal deaths recorded in its civil register. These national assessments are indicated by the quality codes, C, U and ... that appear in the first column of this table.


     C indicates that the data are estimated to be virtually complete, that is, representing at least 90 per cent of the late foetal deaths occurring each year, while U indicates that data are estimated to be incomplete, that is, representing less than 90 per cent of the late foetal deaths occurring each year. The code ... indicates that no information was provided regarding completeness.


     Data from civil registers which are reported as incomplete or of unknown completeness (coded U or ...) are considered unreliable. They appear in italics in this table. When data so coded are used to compute ratios, the ratios also appear in italics.


For more information about the quality of vital statistics data in general, see section 4.2 of the Technical Notes.       


Limitations: Statistics on late foetal deaths are subject to the same qualifications as have been set forth for vital statistics in general and foetal‑death statistics in particular as discussed in section 4 of the Technical Notes.


     The reliability of the data, an indication of which is described above, is a very important factor.  Of all vital statistics, the registration of foetal deaths is probably the most incomplete.


    Variation in the definition of foetal deaths, and in particular late foetal deaths, also limits international comparability.  The criterion of 28 or more completed weeks of gestation to distinguish late foetal deaths is not universally used; some countries or areas use different durations of gestation or other criteria such as size of the foetus. In addition, the difficulty of accurately determining gestational age further reduces comparability.  However, to promote comparability, late foetal deaths shown in this table are restricted to those of at least 28 or more completed weeks of gestation. Wherever this is not possible a footnote is provided. 


      Another factor introducing variation in the definition of late foetal deaths is the practice by some countries or areas of including in late foetal‑death statistics infants who were born alive but died before the registration of the birth or within the first 24 hours of life, thus overestimating the total number of late foetal deaths. Statistics of this type are footnoted.


     In addition, late foetal‑death ratios are subject to the limitations of the data on live births with which they have been computed. These have been set forth in the technical notes for table 1.


     Regarding the computation of the ratios, it must be pointed out that when late foetal deaths and live births are both under registered, the resulting ratios may be of quite reasonable magnitude. As a matter of fact, for the countries or areas where live‑birth registration is poorest, the late foetal‑death ratios , effectively masking the completeness of the base data.  For this reason, possible variations in birth‑registration completeness as well as the reported completeness of late foetal deaths must always be borne in mind in evaluating late foetal‑death ratios.


In addition to the indirect effect of live‑birth under‑registration, late foetal‑death ratios may be seriously affected by date‑of‑registration tabulation of live births. When the annual number of live births registered and reported fluctuates over a wide range due to changes in legislation or to special needs for proof of birth on the part of large segments of the population, then the late foetal‑death ratios will fluctuate also, but inversely.  Because of these effects, data for countries or areas known to tabulate live births by date of registration should be used with caution unless it is also known that statistics by date of registration approximate those by date of occurrence.


Finally, it may be noted that counting live‑born infants who died before the registration of the birth or within the first 24 hours of life as late foetal deaths has the effect of inflating the late foetal‑death ratios unduly by decreasing the birth denominator and increasing the foetal‑death numerator. This factor should not be overlooked in using data from this table.


     The comparability of data by urban/rural residence is affected by the national definitions of urban and rural used in tabulating these data. It is assumed, in the absence of specific information to the contrary, that the definitions of urban and rural used in connection with the national population census were also used in the compilation of the vital statistics for each country or area.  However, the possibility cannot be excluded that, for a given country or area, the same definitions of urban and rural are not used for both the vital statistics data and the population census data.


Urban/rural differentials in late foetal death ratios may also be affected by whether the late foetal deaths and live births have been tabulated in terms of place of occurrence or place of usual residence. This problem is discussed in more detail in section of the Technical Notes.


Coverage: Late foetal deaths are shown for 100 countries or areas. Data are presented by urban/rural residence for 40 countries or areas.


Late foetal death ratios are shown for 33 countries or areas. Ratios are presented by urban/rural residence of 14 countries or areas.


Earlier data: Late foetal deaths and late foetal‑death ratios have been shown in each issue of the Demographic Yearbook beginning with the 1951 issue.  For information on specific years covered, readers should consult the Index.



[1] For definition, see section of the Technical Notes.