In the late 1960s, a growing awareness of perinatal problems developed in France, focusing on the need to deal with handicaps of perinatal origin. A national program was proposed to address the combined goals of better care during pregnancy, delivery, and the first days of life. This program was funded for the period between 1971 and 1981. Preterm delivery was identified as playing an especially important role among the causes of perinatal handicaps.
As early as 1969, Papiernik had published a coefficient of preterm delivery risk, which enumerated specific risks related to life-style and working conditions. Immediately prior to initiating the national program, it was proposed that the long-term effects of this program be assessed in an average maternity hospital. It was believed that if this program were to be effective, it would be possible on a local level to measure reductions in perinatal mortality as well as handicaps linked