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Cad Saude Publica; 23(10): 2385-95, 2007 Oct.
Analysis of the quality of information on basic causes of neonatal deaths in Brazil is crucially important, since it allows one to estimate how many deaths are avoidable and provide support for policies to decrease neonatal mortality. The current study aimed to evaluate the reliability and validity of the Mortality Information System (MIS) for discriminating between basic causes of neonatal deaths and defining percentages of reducible causes. The basic causes of early neonatal deaths in hospitals in Maceió, Alagoas State, were analyzed, and the causes recorded in medical records were compared to the MIS data in order to measure reliability and validity. The modified SEADE Foundation and Wigglesworth classifications were compared to analyze the capacity for reduction of neonatal mortality. Maternal causes predominated in the medical records, as compared to respiratory disorders on the death certificates and in the MIS. The percentage of avoidable deaths may be much higher than observed from the MIS, due to imprecision in completing death certificates. Based on the MIS, the greatest problems are in early diagnosis and treatment of neonatal causes. However, the results show that the most pressing problems relate to failures in prenatal care and lack of control of diseases.