Australia is one of the safest places in the world for a baby to be born. However, every day in Australia, 6 babies are stillborn and 2 die within 28 days of birth (neonatal death). Collectively, these deaths are called perinatal deaths.

In 2017 and 2018 combined, there were:

  • 608,696 babies born to 599,725 women.
  • 5,808 perinatal deaths (1.0% of babies born). Of these deaths, 74% were stillbirths (4,290) and 26% were neonatal deaths (1,518).
  • 9.5 perinatal deaths per 1,000 births (7.0 stillbirths per 1,000 total births and 2.5 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births).

The largest proportion of perinatal deaths occurred from 20 to 22 weeks of gestation. Over 60% of perinatal deaths occurred between 20 and 26 weeks of gestation.

Antepartum stillbirth (fetal death prior to the onset of labour) was the most frequent type of perinatal death.

What is a perinatal death?

Perinatal deaths are those occurring prior to or during labour and/or birth (stillbirth) or up to 28
days after birth (neonatal death) where the baby is of 20 or more completed weeks of gestation
or with a birthweight of at least 400 grams.

The rate of perinatal death was higher for babies born to:

  • women aged under 20,
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,
  • women living in remote and very remote areas,
  • women living in the most disadvantaged areas of Australia.

Congenital anomaly was the leading cause of perinatal death, followed by unexplained antepartum death and spontaneous preterm birth.