International comparison using the WHO defintion

World Health Organization international definition for perinatal deaths

For purposes of international comparison, stillbirths and neonatal deaths are defined as third trimester perinatal deaths—greater than or equal to 28 weeks gestational age and/or greater than or equal to 1,000 grams birthweight (WHO 2015).

This differs from the standard definitions used for stillbirths and neonatal deaths in Australia—greater than or equal to 20 weeks' gestational age or greater than and/or equal to 400 grams birthweight.

The WHO definitions result in reporting of babies who are larger and more mature than the definitions applied in Australia. This means Australian perinatal mortality rates reported using the WHO definitions are lower than those reported using Australian definitions.

Using the WHO definitions (perinatal deaths from the third trimester):

  • The rate of stillbirths in Australia has decreased from 3.4 per 1,000 births in 1997 to 2.1 per 1,000 births in 2016.
  • The estimated world-wide stillbirth rate in 2015 was 18 per 1,000 births, varying from 3 per 1,000 births in combined high-income countries to 29 per 1,000 births in sub-Saharan Africa (Blencowe et al. 2016).
  • The rate of neonatal deaths in Australia has decreased from 1.4 per 1,000 live births in 1997 to 0.8 per 1,000 live births in 2016.
  • The estimated world-wide neonatal mortality rate in 2015 was 19 per 1,000 live births, varying from 3 per 1,000 live births in combined high-income countries, to 28 per 1,000 live births in southern Asia and 29 per 1,000 live births in sub-Saharan Africa (UNICEF 2015). 

 

References