BACKGROUND : Despite the global burden of perinatal deaths, there is currently no single, globally-acceptable
classification system for perinatal deaths. Instead, multiple, disparate systems are in use world-wide. This
inconsistency hinders accurate estimates of causes of death and impedes effective prevention strategies.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is developing a globally-acceptable classification approach for
perinatal deaths. To inform this work, we sought to establish a consensus on the important characteristics
of such a system.
METHODS : A group of international experts in the classification of perinatal deaths were identified and invited
to join an expert panel to develop a list of important characteristics of a quality global classification system for
perinatal death. A Delphi consensus methodology was used to reach agreement. Three rounds of consultation
were undertaken using a purpose built on-line survey. Round one sought suggested characteristics for
subsequent scoring and selection in rounds two and three.
RESULTS : The panel of experts agreed on a total of 17 important characteristics for a globally-acceptable
perinatal death classification system. Of these, 10 relate to the structural design of the system and 7 relate
to the functional aspects and use of the system.
CONCLUSION : This study serves as formative work towards the development of a globally-acceptable approach
for the classification of the causes of perinatal deaths. The list of functional and structural characteristics
identified should be taken into consideration when designing and developing such a system.