Perinatal mortality

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NSW Perinatal Data Collection (SAPHaRI). Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health.

Perinatal deaths include stillbirths and deaths within 28 days of birth (neonatal deaths). Data include deaths reported to the PDC only, deaths occurring after discharge or transfer of the baby may not be reported to the PDC. 

Data include all births in NSW regardless of mother’s place of residence.

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NSW Perinatal Data Collection


The NSW Perinatal Data Collection (PDC), formerly the NSW Midwives Data Collection (MDC), is a population-based surveillance system covering all births in NSW public and private hospitals, as well as homebirths. The PDC is a statutory data collection under the NSW Public Health Act 2010.

The PDC encompasses all live births, and stillbirths of at least 20 weeks gestation or at least 400 grams birth weight. Prior to 2006 the PDC encompassed all births of at least 20 weeks gestation or at least 400 grams birth weight.The data collection has operated since 1987 but continuously only since 1990.

For every birth in NSW the attending midwife or medical practitioner completes a form (latest version:, or its electronic equivalent, giving demographic, medical and obstetric information on the mother and the condition of the infant. The PDC form was revised in 1998, 2006 and 2011.

Completed forms are sent to the Data Integrity and Governance Unit, Information Management and Quality, in the Health System Information and Performance Reporting Branch of the NSW Ministry of Health, where they are compiled into the PDC database. In 2010, over 80% of PDC notifications were received electronically from hospital obstetric information systems.

There are several electronic systems that generate the PDC data including ObstetriX and Cerner in public hospitals and a variety of systems in private hospitals. ObstetriX is the most commonly used maternity information system in public hospitals in NSW.

Table 1. Perinatal Data Collection Notification Sources, NSW 2010

Notification sourceLocal Health District or Hospital

Per cent of PDC records 2010

ObstetriX All hospitals in Northern Sydney, Central Coast, South Eastern Sydney, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Hunter New England, Nepean Blue Mountains and Western Sydney Local Health Districts. Some hospitals in Mid North Coast, Northern, Murrumbidgee, Southern, Western and Far West Local Health Districts 51.1 
Cerner Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts 19.4 
Meditech Ramsay Private Hospitals - North Shore, Westmead, St George, Kareena, Figtree and Tamara Private Hospitals 8.7 
Sydney Adventist Obstetric Information System Sydney Adventist Hospital 2.2 
Newcastle Private Obstetric Information System Newcastle Private Hospital 2.0
 Total   83.4
 Paper form Remaining hospitals and homebirths 16.6
 Total   100 


The information sent to the NSW Ministry of Health is checked and compiled into one statewide dataset. One record is reported for each baby, even in the case of a multiple birth. The PDC includes notifications of births which occur in NSW which includes women whose usual place of residence is outside NSW and who give birth in NSW; it does not receive notifications of interstate births where the mother is resident in NSW.  The collection is based on the date of birth of the baby.

Data are reported by calendar year. For this report, the PDC was accessed via SAPHaRI. 


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Codes: NSW Perinatal Data Collection

The current data collection form for the NSW Perinatal Data Collection (PDC) commenced in 2011. Codes are described in the NSW Perinatal Data Collection Manual - 2011 Edition, which is available on the internet at

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Perinatal mortality by Aboriginality

Number and rate by mother's Aboriginality and year.
Key points: Deaths

• The age standardised death rate in NSW has more than halved in the last 35 years. The male death rate remains higher than the female rate, although the gap has been consistently narrowing over the years.

    • In 2012, there were 312 infant deaths in NSW, which was 3.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in Australia was 3.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012.

Introduction: Deaths


Death or mortality statistics are published at regular intervals in most countries and usually show numbers and rates of deaths by sex, age and other variables. A death rate is an estimate of the proportion of the population that dies during a specified period (Last 2001). In this report it is expressed as the number of deaths per 100,000 population (person-years).

The proportion of older people varies between geographic areas and over time and can therefore influence death rate comparisons within these dimensions. Age-adjustment (also known as age-standardisation) allows for the comparison of death rates across geographic areas and over time after removing the effects of the different age structures in these dimensions.

Refer to the Methods tab for more information.

Death rates in NSW and in Australia

The age-adjusted death rate was 570.3 deaths per 100,000 population per year in NSW in 2010 and 2011 combined (preliminary death data, from Australian Coordinating Registry (ACR)). There were 49,337 deaths per year in NSW in these two years - 25,073 men and 24,264 women per year died.

The ABS reported age-standardised death rate for NSW for 2012 was 5.4 deaths per 1,000 people and 5.5 death per 1,000 people for the whole of Australia.  In NSW, the ABS reported rates for 2010 and 2011 of 5.6 and 5.8 respectively (ABS 3302.0 2010), similar to the ACR source. Some diffferences between the ABS figures and those in this report include the fact that the ABS reports deaths by the year of registration and this report uses the year of occurrence as the basis of reporting, which mainly affects numbers in the latest reporting year. Refer to the Methods tab for more information.

Death rates internationally

Death rates from all causes are low in Australia and NSW by international standards.  The WHO classifies Australia into an ‘A stratum’, with very low child and adult mortality (WHO 2003). Comparisons by country reveal that the probability of dying between 15 and 60 years per 1000 population (WHO calculated adult mortality rate) spans from low 50s in selected developed countries to 600-700 in some African counties. Australia’s rate was 61 per 1000 in 2008 which placed it at the fifth place (WHO 2010).

Causes of death in NSW by sex and age in 2010 and 2011

The leading causes of all deaths in NSW (after averaging results from the last two years) were cardiovascular diseases followed by malignant neoplasms (or cancers), each contributing around one third of all deaths. Respiratory diseases and injury and poisonings were distant third and fourth causes of all death, each accounting for less than 10% of deaths.

Analysis by sex and age reveals striking differences between males and females and different ages. One of the main differences is that injury and poisoning is of much greater importance as a cause of death in younger ages in both sexes, but especially in males. It constitutes over 70% of all deaths in males aged 15-24 years and over 50% in females of the same age.


Australian Bureau of Statistics. Deaths, Australia 2009. 3302.0. Canberra: ABS, 2010. Available at

Last JM (eds). A dictionary of epidemiology. Fourth edition. New York: Oxford University Press. Inc, 2001.

World Health Organisation. World health statistics 2010. Geneva: WHO, 2010. Available at

World Health Organization. The world health report 2003 - shaping the future. Geneva: WHO, 2003. Available at

Interventions: Deaths

Interventions aiming to reduce deaths rates in NSW are embedded in strategies dealing with specific health issues or specific disadvantaged populations.

For more information: Deaths

Useful websites include:

Australian Bureau of Statistics at

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at

HealthInsite at