The high rates of multiple births in Malta has been noted again in the Second European Perinatal Health Report released by the EURO-PERISTAT project.
In its references to Malta, the report says that Fetal mortality rates at or after 28 weeks of gestation ranged from under 2.0 per 1000 live births and stillbirths in the Czech Republic and Iceland to 4.0 or more per 1000 in France, Latvia, the region of Brussels in Belgium, and Romania. The countries of the United Kingdom also had relatively high foetal mortality rates. Neonatal mortality rates ranged from 1.2 per 1000 live births in Iceland and 1.5 per 1000 in Finland and Sweden to 4.5 per 1000 in Malta and 5.5 per 1000 in Romania. Infant mortality rates ranged from 2.3 per 1000 live births in Iceland and Finland to 5.5 in Malta, 5.7 in Latvia, and 9.8 in Romania.
Multiple pregnancy rates differed widely throughout Europe, ranging from lows of 9 to 13 per 1000 women with live births or stillbirths in Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to more than 20 per 1000 in Brussels, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Cyprus, Spain, and Malta.
The report says that up to 5 to 6% of births in some countries may occur after use of some form of assisted reproductive techniques (ART), although the use of the less invasive procedures is under-reported in most data systems or not reported at all. Births after in vitro fertilisation (IVF) accounted for 2 to 4% of all births.
Many countries are implementing policies to prevent multiple pregnancies in assisted conception, and the decrease in twin rates observed in some countries – such as Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway – may be the result of these policies. In contrast, the substantial increases in twin birth rates observed in Italy, Malta, Luxembourg, Brussels in Belgium and the Czech Republic could result from more widespread use of ART without clear practice guidelines.
Since 2004, the average age of women giving birth in Europe has risen, but the proportions of mothers 35 years and older vary between countries from 10.9% in Romania to 34.7% in Italy. Births to mothers aged under 20 were uncommon (2% or lower in many countries), but in some countries, they account for over 5% of births (United Kingdom, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, and Romania).
The report is based on 2010 figures.