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Perinatal deaths in Australia

Perinatal deaths in Australia


A baby dying these days can seem unbelievable. With all our drugs and technological advances, you would think it was virtually unheard of. Yet even with the best of care, babies will still die. Although a baby dying is uncommon, if it happens to your baby statistics are of little comfort. Of the 257,394 births in Australia in 1999, 2,133 babies died (or 0.83%).

Many babies die because they are born very prematurely or there were complications with the pregnancy or labour and birth. Other babies will die if they are born with abnormalities or an inherited disorder. A few babies will die for no apparent reason in the pregnancy, during the birth or in the early days after they are born.

Babies that die before birth or during labour are described medically as a stillbirth. Babies who die in the first 28 days after the birth are referred to a neonatal death. The statistical combination of these deaths is referred to as the 'perinatal mortality rate' and in Australia this only includes babies that are at least 20 weeks gestation or 400grams in weight (Other countries can vary from this definition).

The national Australian perinatal mortality rate has declined from 22.6 per 1,000 births in 1973 to 10.1 per 1,000 in 1999. Much of this can be attributed to advances in the care of very premature babies.


Last revised: Saturday, 1 December 2012

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.

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