Stillbirth Rate Falls To Record Low

  • Minister for Health

A major effort led by Victorian experts and backed by the Andrews Labor Government has seen the stillbirth rate drop to its lowest in two decades.

New data released today shows Victoria’s perinatal mortality rate improved from 8.8 per 1,000 births in 2017 to 8.6 in 2018 – the lowest it has been for 18 years.

The rate of stillbirth after 20 weeks gestation has reduced from 6.3 per 1,000 births in 2017 to 6.0 per 1,000 births in 2018 – a 5 per cent reduction. There were 116 stillbirths after 28 weeks gestation in 2018 compared to 159 just a year earlier.

The Victoria’s Mothers, Babies and Children 2018 report, produced by the independent Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity (CCOPMM), contains comprehensive data on birth outcomes, and the health of mothers, newborns and children.

The Labor Government is supporting midwives and doctors to reduce the rate of stillbirth with the establishment of Safer Care Victoria in 2017, enhanced training to improve the detection of babies not growing properly, and the Movements Matter campaign in 2018.

The campaign, run by Safer Care Victoria, reached 620,000 people on social media. It aimed to dispel common myths for expectant mothers, doctors and midwives, and included workshops attended by more than 700 clinicians.

Building on this ground-breaking work, the Government recently launched the Safer Baby Collaborative – a partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, involving 20 health services including maternity leaders the Royal Women’s, Monash and Mercy Hospitals.

The collaborative, developed with the Stillbirth Centre for Research Excellence aims to tackle stillbirth by promoting safe sleeping positions for pregnant women, supporting them to quit smoking and report decreased baby’s movements, and further improving clinicians’ detection of poorly growing babies.

As stated by Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“This is the most comprehensive approach we have ever taken to raise awareness of stillbirth risk factors and improve clinical practice, and we’re only getting started. It is remarkable these efforts are already saving lives.”

“Losing a baby to stillbirth is a heartbreaking and traumatic time for too many hopeful parents. On their behalf, we are doing what we can to help bring more babies safely into the world.”

As stated by CCOPMM Chair Tanya Farrell

“Around 500 babies are stillborn every year in Victoria. Sadly, not all are preventable, but many are. Research tells us we can make the most difference after 28 weeks of pregnancy, particularly as women approach their due date.

“Together we’re already saving lives and even before we see the data from our more recent efforts, we know that this too is making a difference.”

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