Yonsei Med J.  2016 Mar;57(2):426-429. 10.3349/ymj.2016.57.2.426.

Possible Prevention of Neonatal Death: A Regional Population-Based Study in Japan

  • 1Department of Community Perinatal Medicine, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Japan. koshida@belle.shiga-med.ac.jp
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Japan.
  • 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Japan.


The neonatal mortality rate in Japan has currently been at the lowest level in the world. However, it is unclear whether there are still some potentially preventable neonatal deaths. We, therefore, aimed to examine the backgrounds of neonatal death and the possibilities of prevention in a region of Japan.
This is a population-based study of neonatal death in Shiga Prefecture of Japan.
The 103 neonatal deaths in our prefecture between 2007 and 2011 were included. After reviewing by a peer-review team, we classified the backgrounds of these neonatal deaths and analyzed end-of-life care approaches associated with prenatal diagnosis. Furthermore, we evaluated the possibilities of preventable neonatal death, suggesting specific recommendations for its prevention. We analyzed 102 (99%) of the neonatal deaths. Congenital malformations and extreme prematurity were the first and the second most common causes of death, respectively. More than half of the congenital abnormalities (59%) including malformations and chromosome abnormality had been diagnosed before births. We had 22 neonates with non-intensive care including eighteen cases with congenital abnormality and four with extreme prematurity. Twenty three cases were judged to have had some possibility of prevention with one having had a strong possibility of prevention. Among specific recommendations of preventable neonatal death, more than half of them were for obstetricians.
There is room to reduce neonatal deaths in Japan. Prevention of neonatal death requires grater prenatal care by obstetricians before birth rather than improved neonatal care by neonatologists after birth.


Neonatal death; cause; end of life care; prevention; population-based study

MeSH Terms

Cause of Death
*Infant Mortality
Infant, Newborn
Infant, Premature
*Perinatal Death
Perinatal Mortality
Pregnancy Complications/epidemiology/*etiology


  • Fig. 1 Overview of neonatal death in our region.

  • Fig. 2 Target of recommendations in possibly preventable cases.


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