Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : This paper reviews the results of published and unpublished epidemiological studies on perinatal morbidity in Belgium. The most frequently studied variables are birthweight and gestational age, which are not only morbidity indicators but also morbidity and mortality predictors. Congenital anomalies are studied in Belgium through the results gathered by two regional birth defects registries, which have been operating since 1979. Major results of these registries are presented and discussed with relation to their implications on prevention policy. Subjective and reported health indicators are less commonly available for epidemiological studies, although some were collected in an interview survey conducted in 1981 in three districts of Wallonia. The results show important social inequalities and geographical disparities. Finally, the long-term consequences of perinatal problems are presented and discussed. A prospective study conducted at Leuven University Hospital on infants born between 1981 and 1986 suggests that improving survival of low-birthweight infants with appropriate perinatal care will not increase the number of handicapped children.