Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The number of peri-natal deaths a day in SA in 2016 almost mirrored the number of South Africans murdered daily in 2016-17.

Stats SA found 18‚683 peri-natal deaths occurred in 2016‚ or 51 a day. This was a 12.6% decline from 2015. According to police crime statistics‚ 52.1 people were murdered daily in 2016-17.

Peri-natal deaths peaked in 2009 with 25‚389‚ or 69 a day‚ and decreased by 26.4% between 2009 and 2016. Stats SA released the number of peri-natal deaths from 1997 to 2016 on Wednesday last week.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines peri-natal deaths as stillbirths and deaths between 23 weeks of pregnancy and seven days after birth. The information was obtained from the Department of Home Affairs’ civil registration system.

Just more than six in every 10 (64%) peri-natal deaths were due to stillbirths. Almost seven out of 10 (69.8%) of early neo-natal deaths occurred within the first three days with 2‚363 deaths on day one (35.2%)‚ 1‚320 deaths on day two (19.6%), and 1‚008 deaths on day three (15%).

The national average showed there were 124 male stillbirths for every 100 female stillbirths, and 126 male peri-natal deaths for every 100 female. In 2016, there were 21 peri-natal deaths‚ 7.7 early neo-natal deaths and 13.5 stillbirths for every 1‚000 births.

The most common cause of death in 2016 was "other natural causes" (57.7%). Next were peri-natal deaths due to the foetus or newborn being affected by maternal factors and complications during pregnancy‚ labour or delivery‚ with three in every 10 (30.2%) dying.

About one in 20 children (5.1%) died because of respiratory and cardiovascular disorders "specific to the peri-natal period".