Development of antenatal care from the beginning of the 20th century and its relation to perinatal mortality in developed countries is presented. The role of socioeconomic factors, new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, extended indications for cesarean section and of neonatal intensive care is also stressed. In the West- and Middle-European countries by the introduction of antenatal care the perinatal mortality (PNM) rate decreased from about 60.0‰ in the years 1920–1930 to about 40.0‰ in 1950s. Further decrease to about 25.0‰ in the 1970s was conditioned by an increase of number of antenatal visits and by extended indications for cesarean section. New technologies (amnioscopy, pH.metry, cardiotocography and ultrasound examinations) decreased the PNM rate to about 13.0‰ in the year 1980. Regional organization with neonatal intensive care units decreased PNM rate to low values of 5.0–9.0‰. The echo of the number of antenatal visits to PNM rate is illustrated on 36 855 deliveries at the University Clinic in Zagreb. In developing countries maternal and perinatal mortality is very high. The reason for that is a bad socioeconomic background and a lack of organized antenatal and perinatal health care system. The policy to decrease maternal and perinatal mortality is presented: the improvement of antenatal booking and of the number of prenatal visits of pregnant women; their childbearing under professional assistance. The organizing of maternity health care should be different from country to country, from region to region, respectively.
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