KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 – The number of perinatal and neonatal deaths in the country has declined annually from 2020 to 2022, with an overall decrease of nine per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively in that time period, according to Statistics Department Malaysia’s (DOSM) Children Statistics, Malaysia, 2023 report.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), perinatal deaths are foetal deaths of at least 28 weeks of gestation and/or 1,000g in weight and newborn deaths (up to and including the first seven days after birth).
From 2020 to 2021, the number of perinatal deaths in Malaysia went down by 4.8 per cent from 3,810 to 3,628, and further dipped by 4.4 per cent between 2021 and 2022 from 3,628 to 3,468 deaths.
Boys accounted for about 55 to 56 per cent of perinatal deaths every year, with the rate of perinatal deaths among boys increasing from 8.5 per 1,000 live births in 2020 to 8.9 per 1,000 live births in 2022.
Selangor was the state with the highest number of perinatal deaths at 1,928 in total between 2020 and 2022, while Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan and Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya were the lowest with a total of 46 and 54 perinatal deaths respectively in the last three years.
Disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight accounted for the highest principal cause of medically certified perinatal deaths at an average of 21.6 per cent for the last three years.
This is followed by Edward’s syndrome and Patau’s syndrome at an average of 7.8 per cent, and cardiovascular disorders originating in the perinatal period at an average of 7.3 per cent between 2020 and 2022.
Non-medically certified principal causes of perinatal deaths include congenital heart disease, premature birth, hydrocephalus, milk aspiration, and liver disease.
Neonatal death is defined by WHO as death after birth and within the first 28 days of life.
The number of neonatal deaths in Malaysia dipped by 1.3 per cent from 1,842 in 2021 to 1,818 deaths in 2021, and further declined by 1.6 per cent to 1,789 deaths in 2022.
Boys also outnumbered girls in neonatal deaths accounting for an average of 56.4 per cent of deaths between 2020 and 2022.
The rate of neonatal deaths for boys and girls remained stagnant from 2021 to 2022 at 4.7 per 1,000 live births and 3.7 per 1,000 live births respectively.
Between 2020 and 2022, Selangor and Sabah had the highest number of neonatal deaths with a total of 830 and 741 respectively. Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya had the lowest number in that same period with a total of 25 deaths.
The highest medically certified principal cause of neonatal death was also disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight.
In 2020 and 2021, these disorders accounted for 16.3 per cent and 16.2 per cent of neonatal deaths respectively, with the figure going up to 19.6 per cent in 2022.
Edward’s syndrome and Patau’s syndrome, as well cardiovascular disorders originating in the perinatal period, were the second highest medically certified principal causes of neonatal deaths from 2020 to 2022 at an average rate of 7.4 per cent each.
Non-medically certified principal causes of perinatal deaths include congenital heart disease, premature birth, hydrocephalus, milk aspiration, liver disease, road accidents, and various types of tumours.