A new study published in The Lancet suggests that Australia lags behind other developed nations in tackling the stillborn baby rate.  The study also shows that women in low-income countries are twice as likely to deliver a stillborn baby as those in richer nations.

The study showed overall that more that 98 per cent of all stillbirths occurred in low to middle-income countries, with an estimated 2.6 million third trimester stillbirths occurring in 2015.  The countries with the highest stillbirth rates were in sub-Saharan Africa.

Associate Professor Vicki Flenady from the Mater Research Institute at the University of Queensland, one of the study’s authors, said there were a number of factors that contributed to a higher risk of stillbirth delivery.

“The biggest factor is the lack of access to emergency obstetric care for women in labour, so when something goes wrong, to be able to deliver that baby by caesarean section quickly,” Professor Flenady said.  “Other factors include post-term pregnancy, going greater than 42 weeks, maternal hypertension, overweight and obesity and maternal infection.”

Researchers found that Australia’s stillbirth rates were significantly higher than other developed countries.

“Our late gestation stillbirth rate, we rank 16th among the developed countries — we’re not doing as well as we should,” Professor Flenady said. “It’s double that of the best performing country.”

Professor Flenady indicated that there were a number of ways Australia could improve in this area.

“I think one of the factors is we don’t have a plan for how we address stillbirth in this country,” she said.  “We haven’t implemented approaches to ensuring each case of stillbirth is examined fully and in-depth to learn from that case, to put in place clinical place intervention so it doesn’t happen again.”


Image source: Getty Images

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  • i remember getting this birth announcement and it was saying about how their child was born and was beautiful, name etc and then said that she was born and passed on the date. it was so incredibly sad.


  • I hope they can prevent this happening as frequently. It would be heartbreaking :(


  • This is sad. I had a still born baby over 20 years ago. The explanation at the time was the cord was wrapped around her neck twice and she was really small. It was only 5 years agowhile an infertility specialist did multiple test on me, it was discovered that there was something to do with antinuclear antibodies meant that the the baby wouldn’t have been getting enough nutrients and blood from the placenta. So when I finally got pregnant 4 years ago, I had to take half an asprin throughout the pregnancy and have regular ultrasounds and feotal heart monitoring. Which resulted in a successful pregancy. Thank goodness as I don’t think I could have coped if I had another still born .


  • It is scary to think that in a developed nation such as Australia there are still such huge gaps in healthcare that, given the better performance of other developed nations, must be something that we should be able to improve.


  • If you live in a country town where there is nobody qualified to give aenastheic consider arranging accomodation near a hosptital where there is. I know of one stillborn case. Had the Mum been in a country town or city which had an aenethatist and the Dr. could have done a C-section there is a chance the baby may have survived. They suspected the cord may be around the baby’s neck but she was still moving about during the early stages of labour. They reckoned the cord was long enough for them to at least loosen it then unwind it as much as possible before “pulling the baby out”. As it was she endured several hours in labour to deliver a baby the Dad knew was already dead about 3 hours before the birth. Her 2nd baby she stayed with family in a metro area from 6 weeks before the birth. The Dad took holidays a week before the baby was due.


  • I hope they will be able to lower the numbers. It must be such a tragic experience. :-(


  • Hopefully they will look into this sooner rather than later. I have a very close friend who has experienced a stillbirth and seeing what she went through just broke my heart. The hospital mismanaged her case but it can’t be proved.


  • Still birth is so very harrowing for those who experience it. Anything that can be done to reduce the rate is a good thing.


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