Three paediatric pathologists, one perinatal paediatrician, one obstetrician, and one epidemiologist separately used information collected on 239 babies in an attempt to validate the Wigglesworth classification of perinatal deaths. This was first done using clinical data only, then using the combination of clinical and gross necropsy findings and finally using clinical, gross necropsy, histological and any other information (for example, chromosome analyses, microbiological investigations). Only 14 (6%) of deaths changed groups within the Wigglesworth classification when gross necropsy findings were considered as well as clinical findings, and altogether only 21 (9%) changed classification when complete investigations were available. There was an unacceptable amount (15%) of disagreement between the classifiers, largely the result of failure to comply with the rules laid down for classification. We set out amendments to Wigglesworth's original definitions to clarify certain ambiguities.
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