Stillbirths in Australia 1991-2009 (AIHW)

Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, with rates of stillbirth among the lowest internationally. However, for every 135 Australian births one baby is stillborn, according to a report released  by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Stillbirths in Australia 1991-2009, is the first national report on stillbirths and examines the association between maternal, pregnancy and birth factors with stillbirth.

In Australia a 'stillbirth' is defined as the birth of a baby who shows no signs of life after a pregnancy of at least 20 weeks gestation or weighing 400 grams or more. In 2009, 2,341 babies were stillborn, accounting for almost three quarters of perinatal deaths. Congenital anomalies, or birth defects, are the most common cause of stillbirth in Australia, accounting for 21% of all stillbirths.

From 1991 to 2009, the stillbirth rate in Australia was between 6.4 and 7.8 per 1,000 births. The risk of stillbirth occurring between 28 and 41 weeks gestation dropped between 1991 and 2009, however there was an increase in the risk of stillbirths from 20-27 weeks.

Stillbirth rates have improved among Indigenous women-dropping from 15.5 per 1,000 births from 1991 to 1994 to 12.3 per 1,000 births from 2005 to 2009, but these rates are still higher than for non-Indigenous women.

Media release

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