Utilizing Datasets to Advance Perinatal Research.
Many organizations collect and make available perinatal data for research and quality improvement initiatives. Analysis of existing data and use of retrospective study design has many advantages for perinatal researchers. These advantages include large samples, inclusion of women from diverse groups, data reflective of actual clinical processes and outcomes, and decreased risk of direct maternal and fetal harm. We review 11 publicly available datasets relevant to perinatal research and quality improvement, detail the availability of interactive websites, and discuss strategies to locate additional datasets. While analysis of existing data has limitations, it may provide statistical power to study rare perinatal outcomes, support research applicable to diverse populations, and facilitate timely and ethical well-woman research immediately relevant to clinical care.