Stillbirth Rate Falls To Record Low

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.