Foundation calls for action on stillbirth rate

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A new report from the federal government's Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today has revealed the stillbirth rate in Australia has not changed in decades - with 2,100 babies dying of stillbirth in the year 2015, and another 2,100 dying again in 2016.

Stillbirth Foundation Australia CEO, Kate Lynch, said six Australian babies are stillborn every day and up to a third of these are preventable with the right education programs and national health campaigns.

“The hard truth is that the national stillbirth toll dwarfs the national road toll, and if this report is not a call to arms for governments, policy-makers and the medical profession, I don’t know what is,” said Ms Lynch.

“The ground-breaking Senate Inquiry into Stillbirth Research and Education made strong recommendations last year, providing a roadmap to reduce the rate of stillbirth by 20 per cent over three years.

“We look forward to the Government’s response to this Report and continuing discussions with policy-makers. 

“When it comes to stillbirth, there are things we know that can reduce the rate of stillbirth but are not reflected in current advice or medical practice, and there are things that only further medical research can reveal.

“Australia is not doing enough and can do better than this. Our stillbirth rate is much higher than that of other countries such as the UK and New Zealand.

“Stillbirth rates are still significantly higher amongst Aboriginal people, and people in rural and regional areas, and we can do better than that too," said Ms Lynch.

The foundation said there were relatively simple steps expectant mothers could take to improve their chances of having a healthy delivery.

Ms Lynch continued, “Our advice to pregnant women is that they should go to sleep on their side from 28 weeks of pregnancy onwards, and pregnant mothers should seek immediate healthcare professional advice if they notice changes in their baby’s movements.”