For a country blighted by falling birthrates, Portugal has suffered a new blow: more babies died in the first 28 days of life last year than in 2013.
Alarmingly, statistics point to a major spike in neonatal deaths in both the Algarve and Alto Minho regions.
In the Algarve, neonatal deaths leaped from six to 12 last year, whereas in the Alto Minho they passed from two to five.
Overall, 169 babies died during their first month of life – an increase of nine over the year before.
But this figure has been balanced by a better result for babies at risk who went on to survive what is known as the post-natal period.
Post-natal deaths dropped from 83 in 2013 to 62 in 2014.
Putting some further perspective on the figures, health director Francisco George explained the results reflected a slight increase in the number of babies that were born last year, over births in 2013.
We cannot “analyse components of infant mortality in isolation”, he told reporters – particularly when “all the components show a global tendency to the decreasing” of infant mortality.
One of the ‘bottom line figures’ for 2014 illustrates this, as there were 2.8 deaths of children under a year old per 1,000 births in 2014, as opposed to 2.95 recorded in 2013.