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Infant mortality rate steadily declining in Czech Republic

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Prague, July 15 (CTK) – The infant mortality rate dropped from 2.1 to 1.2 per mille in the Czech Republic between 2000 and 2013 and is among the lowest in the OECD, Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek told a press conference yesterday.
The mortality rate of women who die in connection with pregnancy, childbirth or puerperium has declined to less than 10 per 10,000 newborn kids.
Nemecek said a negative phenomenon is that the average age of the mothers giving birth to their first child has increased by almost six years, to 28, since the beginning of the 1990s.
“In the Czech Republic, up to 107,000 children are born in about 105,000 childbirths every year. The quality of the care for the mothers and infants is very high and it continues to improve, Nemecek said.
In this respect, the Czech Republic ranks among the world’s most advanced countries, he said.
Also in view of these successes, he, a doctor by original profession, feels irritated by activists’ efforts to have childbirths moved from excellently equipped maternity clinics to home conditions in the belief that this is beneficial to infants.
The network of maternity clinics covers the whole Czech territory, with risky childbirths being concentrated in 12 perinatological and ten intermediary centres.
In the 10.5-million Czech Republic, there are 94 maternity clinics, 64 of which meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standards as clinics friendly to children.
Over 78 percent of expectant mothers undergo the first prenatal checkup in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The Czech Republic fares as one of the best among the advanced countries in terms of the access to prenatal care, Nemecek said.
He said the mortality rate of infants with the lowest birth weight has been steeply declining as well.
“This is important, because the prematurely born children with their birth weight under 750 grammes face the infant mortality threat most of all,” he added.
As far as the unfavourable trends are concerned, such as the rising age of mothers, they can hardly be reversed, Nemecek said.
The highest average age of mothers with their first child is in Prague, 30.9, the lowest in the Karlovy Vary and Usti Regions, northwest Bohemia, 27.1 and 27.2, respectively.
In the past three years, the general fertility rate has oscillated around 43 children per 1000 women, which is significantly lower than before 1990.
In the period to come, the number childbirths is expected to decline as a result of declining fertility and the trend by women to postpone motherhood until their higher age.
The higher age of mothers carries a higher number of complications during the pregnancy and childbirth. Complications appear with more than 14 percent mothers.
That is why mothers should undergo expert care from the early stages of their pregnancy, should not underestimate preventive checkups, and should not leave the developments in “the hands” of sheer coincidence or what is called home care, Nemecek pointed out.
According to statistics, the number of in vitro fertilisation cases has been rising in the Czech Republic.
In 2013, the country’s 41 assisted reproduction centres performed a total of 32,000 in vitro fertilisation cycles, one third of them being performed on foreigners.
The share of women over 40 in the number of the cycles rose from 10.7 percent in 2007 to 24.8 percent in 2013.

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