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The Birth of Perinatal Medicine

Since 1960, a significant increase of basic and clinic investigation on normal and pathological pregnancy occurred in the developed world. The acquisition of new knowledge about the physiopathology of the pregnant women, fetus and newborn, and development of new technologies brought about the birth of a new medical subspecialty: Perinatal Medicine. Several Centers and hospital Departments specially dedicated to his new scientific field appeared and developed in several places of the world (Berlin, London, Montevideo, New York, etc.).

During these years, two prestigious medical personalities on this field have defined the limits of the subspecialty and published the first protocols: Prof. Erich Saling (Berlin), responsible for the introduction of the biochemical (acid-base balance) control of labor and Prof. Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia (Montevideo), who introduced the biophysical (electronic) control during labor.

During the following years the first National Perinatal Medicine Societies —the very first was the German in 1967— founded by obstetricians and neonatologists in several countries. In some others in the 70th Maternal-Fetal Medicine sections were constituted inside the Obstetrics and Gynecology National Societies. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology established the Maternal-Fetal Medicine division in 1969.

According to this development, many Federations of Perinatology appeared. The first European Congress of Perinatology took place in 1968 in Berlin. In 1979 and 1980 the Asia-Oceania and the Latin American Federations of Perinatology were born.

Since 1978 the European Association of Perinatal Medicine (EAMP) is granting a prize, created and named by Prof. Saling as the «Maternité Prize». It is awarded every two years at the time when its congress takes place. The prize is awarded to those involved in Perinatology who have best contributed to its development. Therefore the list of winners is also a payroll of people that have helped to created and an large the Perinatal Medicine. They are: Geoffrey Dawes, Oxford (1976); Graeme Collingwood Liggins, Auckland (1978); Gösta Rooth, Uppsala (1980); Erich Saling, Berlin (1982); Albert Huch and Renate Huch, Zurich (1984); Ian Donald, Glasgow (1986); Heinz R. Prechtl, Groningen (1988); Alexandre Minkowski, Paris (1990); Tom Eskens, Nijmegen (1992); Edward Osmund Reynolds, London (1944); Stuart Campbell, London (1996); Claudine Amiel-Tison, Paris (1998); Asim Kurjak, Zagreb (2000); Bengt Robertson, Stockholm (2002) and Emile Papernik, Paris (2004).

The idea to have a body for Perinatal Medicine a World Wide international level came to the minds of our pioneers. In Europe Prof. E. Saling had the initiative to set up the International Congress of Perinatology which was unfortunately discontinued, and Prof. R. Cal deyro-Barcia, as FIGO president (1976-79) made several attempts to create, under FIGO auspices, an operative division specifi cally dedicated to Perinatal Medicine.

During the XI European Congress which took place in Rome (Italy) in 1988, Prof. Ermelando Cosmi proposed the foundation of the World Federation of Perinatal Medicine (WFPM), and in the FIGO board meeting several renowned scientists agreed with this idea and subscribed a document to support this initiative.

Prof. Caldeyro-Barcia, Prof. Saling, Prof. Campbell and Prof. Kurjak headed the list of perinatologists who signed this document, followed by M. Moretti, G. Bevilacqua, G. Pardi, G. Liggins, S. Sakamoto, K. Maeda, J. M. Thoulon, J. M. Carrera, J. R. G. Challis, K. Jährig, E. Lukyanova, H. F. R. Prechtl, F. Cockburn, E. Cosmi, I. Villa-Elizaga, I. Välimäki, E. M. Scarpelli, S. Michalas, D. Anagnostakis, G. C. Di Renzo and L. Stern.

Finally, in the context of first World Wide International Congress of Perinatal Medicine, celebrated in Tokyo, Japan, in 1991, took place the definitive foundation of the «World Association of Perinatal Medicine» (WAPM).

Lastly, the «International Academy of Perinatal Medicine» (IAPM) was created in 2005, with the agreement of the Presidents of three scientific societies: the World Association of Perinatal Medicine (WAPM), the European Association of Perinatal Medicine (EAPM) and the International Society «The Fetus as a Patient» (ISFAP). The task to prepare its foundation and start-up was entrusted to the Secretary General of the WAPM, Dr. José M. Carrera.