Australia has one of world's lowest rates of stillbirth

THE first national report on stillbirths has found Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth.

Stillbirths in Australia 1991-2009 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found the country has one of the lowest rates of stillbirths.

For every 135 Australian births, one baby is stillborn. In 2009, 2341 babies were stillborn, according to the report.

The research examined the association between maternal, pregnancy and birth factors with stillbirth.

A stillbirth is defined as the birth of a baby who shows no signs of life after a pregnancy of at least 20 weeks gestation or weighing 400g or more.

The report states changes in stillbirth patterns are also evident within population sub-groups.

Between 1991 to 2009, stillbirth rates in mothers aged 40 or older fell from 12.7 to 10.6 per 1000 births, but rose in teenage mothers from 9.5 to 15.0 per 1000 births.

AIHW spokesperson David Ellwood, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Griffith University in Queensland, said: "The drop in stillbirth rates over time for older women may suggest that some interventions introduced in recent years to the care of pregnant women in later pregnancy have been of benefit, and that further reductions in stillbirth may be possible, but further investigations are needed to determine best practice."