The outcome of 11046 infants, from 20 weeks' gestation, born to mothers of different ethnic origins within one London borough has been analysed. There was no difference in perinatal death rates between the Asian and white infants. Among those with mothers from Africa and the West Indies there were overall significantly more intrauterine deaths (26.8/1000 and 20.0/1000) and neonatal deaths (8.6/1000 and 9.6/1000) than for the white mothers (intrauterine deaths 8.3/1000; neonatal deaths 3.7/1000). At less than 28 weeks', gestation specific death rates were similar in all groups and the overall higher death rates were due to an increase in the proportion of preterm deliveries among the black mothers. From 28 to 36 weeks' gestation, black infants born alive had lower neonatal death rates (7.7/1000) than the white infants (19/1000). The cause of the increased incidence of preterm labour among the black mothers is uncertain, though differences in intrauterine infection rates may be an important factor.
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