• perinatal mortality;
  • twins;
  • birth asphyxia;
  • Wigglesworth classification;
  • necropsy

ABSTRACT. A large population-based study of all stillbirths and neonatal deaths occurring on the island of Jamaica during a 12 month period is described. During this time, 2069 perinatal deaths were identified in an estimated total of 54400 infants born giving a perinatal death rate of 38.0 per 1000 births. The death rate was 5 times higher among twins than singletons. An attempt was made to obtain detailed postmortem examination of as many cases as possible. In the event, 51 % of the infants who died perinatally had such postmortem examination. Postmortem rate was affected by sex, multiplicity of the infant, time of death, month of death and area of delivery. Deaths were classified using the Wigglesworth scheme. The distribution of categories was similar in the months when the postmortem rate was 70 % to the rest of the time period when the post-mortem rate was only 40 %. The Wigglesworth classification of deaths identified those associated with intrapartum asphyxia as the most important group, accounting for over 40 % of deaths overall and 59 % of deaths in infants of more than 2 500 g birthweight. Antepartum fetal deaths were the second largest group, comprising 20 % of deaths. Sixty percent of the infants in this group weighed less than 2 500 g at birth. Major malformations were responsible for few perinatal deaths in Jamaica. This simple classification is important as it focusses attention on details of labour and delivery that may require change and is useful in planning future delivery of obstetric and neonatal care.