With 1.1 per cent of births to women under the age of 20, Switzerland recorded the lowest proportion of adolescent mothers in Europe in 2010, according to the first European report on perinatal health to include data from the Federal Statistical Office.
An international comparison by the EURO-PERISTAT project published on Monday found that the health of mothers and newborns, as well as the medical management of birth, varied greatly from one country to another.
For most of the indicators, Switzerland falls within the European average. However, in addition to the lowest proportion of young mothers, Switzerland also has one of the highest rates of mothers born abroad (41.1 per cent).
The health of mothers and newborns is a crucial area of public health, the statistical office said in a statement on Monday.
Over recent decades, technological advances have enabled more couples to conceive and more premature babies to survive, but they have also created new health risks.
Obstetrical practices change too, it pointed out, adding that good quality perinatal data and their international comparison were essential to a better understanding of these changes and their effects.
Profile of mothers
With 1.1 per cent of births to women under the age of 20 in 2010, Switzerland recorded the lowest proportion of adolescent mothers in Europe. In the other countries surveyed, this proportion ranges from 1.4 per cent (Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands) to 10.6 per cent (Romania).
Women aged 35 and older represent 25.8 per cent of those who gave birth in Switzerland in 2010. This proportion, high in European comparison, is nevertheless lower than that recorded in Ireland (27.9 per cent), Spain (29.5 per cent) and Italy (34.7 per cent).
The rate of women giving birth to twins or triplets ranges between 9.1 per 1,000 in Romania and 26.5 per 1,000 in Cyprus. With 18.7 per 1,000, Switzerland shows a high rate, close or equal to that of Germany, Slovenia or Luxembourg.
The proportion of mothers born abroad differs greatly from one country to another. In the Czech Republic and Finland it is lower than ten per cent. With 41.1 per cent of mothers born abroad, Switzerland has the second highest rate in Europe after Luxembourg (66 per cent).
The resort to a Caesarean section is increasing throughout Europe, with the exception of Finland and Sweden, where there was a slight decrease between 2004 and 2010.
In 2010, a third of deliveries in Switzerland were made this way. In Poland, Portugal, Romania, Italy and Cyprus, the rates were higher.
The proportion of births without obstetrical intervention (vaginal birth without induction, forceps, suction or episiotomy) was 34.8 per cent in Switzerland in 2010.
As for the birthing location, 0.7 per cent of births took place at home, 1.5 per cent in a birthing home and 97.8 per cent in a hospital.
swissinfo.ch and agencies