HealthStats NSW

Perinatal mortality

  • + Source

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

  • + Notes

    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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  • + Methods
  • + Codes
    • 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

  • + Related Indicators

    Infant mortality

    Number and rate in NSW and in Australia by year. Rate by Aboriginality in NSW. Number and rate by Local Health District and year (preliminary death data).
  • + Associated Information
    • Key points: Pregnancy and the newborn period

      Recent trends

      • Between 2009 and 2014, the numbers of births in NSW increased from 96,439 to 97,326, a rise of 0.9%.  

      • The proportion of mothers who were teenagers continued to fall, from 3.5% in 2009 to 2.7% in 2014.

      • The proportion of births to mothers over 35 years of age has remained stable since 2009.

      • The proportion of mothers who smoked during pregnancy fell from 12.0% in 2009 to 9.3% in 2014.

      • The proportion of babies with low birth weight remained stable over the period from 2009 to 2014 at around 6%.

      • The proportion of preterm births was 7.7% of all births in 2014, an increase of around 20% in the previous twenty years.

      • The perinatal mortality rate was 7.8 per 1,000 births in 2014. Over the period from 2008 to 2013 the perinatal mortality rate varied between 8.0 and 8.7 per 1,000 births.

      • In 2013, there were 372 infant deaths in NSW, which was 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in Australia was 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013.

      Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies

      • In 2011, a change to the data collection resulted in a more specific question concerning commencement of antenatal care. This change has caused an apparent decrease in the proportion of mothers who commenced antenatal care at less than 14 weeks gestation. Among Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers, the proportion commencing antenatal care at less than 14 weeks gestation was 71.3% in 2010 compared with 61.2% in 2011. A similar effect has been observed in mothers of non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent with 79.6% commencing antenatal care at less than 14 weeks gestation in 2010 compared with 71.7% in 2011. In 2014, 54.4% of Aboriginal mothers and 59.9% of non-Aboriginal mothers commenced antenatal care before 14 weeks gestation.

      • The proportion of mothers smoking in pregnancy among Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers was 45.2% in 2014. From 2011, two questions about smoking in pregnancy are asked at data collection. These revised questions provide more opportunity for women to report their smoking history and are likely to produce a more reliable measure of smoking rates in pregnancy than the original question asked in the previous years.

      • The perinatal mortality rate among babies born to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers was 12.3 per 1,000 in 2014, higher than the rate of 7.6 per 1,000 for babies born to non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers.

    • Introduction: Pregnancy and the newborn period


      The health of Australian mothers and babies is generally good by world standards. Maternal deaths are rare, and perinatal mortality rates are low.

      The average woman in NSW can currently expect to give birth to 1.9 babies in her lifetime.

      NSW mothers are getting older with the mean maternal age at first birth around 29 years and at subsequent birth just over 30. The proportion of teenage mothers is declining.

      Burden of disease and social and economic disadvantage 

      Aboriginal mothers and babies, those from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, and some overseas-born mothers and their babies continue to experience worse outcomes than other NSW mothers and babies.

    • Interventions: Pregnancy and the newborn period

      The NSW Ministry of Health maintains two population-based surveillance systems that collect information concerning pregnancy and birth: the NSW Perinatal Data Collection and the NSW Register of Congenital Conditions. They assist in monitoring the health of mothers and babies and, maternity service planning in NSW.

      The implementation of the NSW Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Strategy has improved access to culturally appropriate maternity services for Aboriginal mothers.

      The NSW Maternal and Perinatal Mortality Review Committee reviews each death of a mother or newborn baby to assess the cause and identify any possible avoidable factors. This information is used to improve services for mothers and babies.

    • For more information: Pregnancy and the newborn period

      Useful websites include:

      NSW Ministry of Health at , in particular see the annual publication by the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence New South Wales Mothers and Babies. The latest edition is available at

      Australian Bureau of Statistics at, in particular see Births (ABS Cat no 3301.0)

      Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at in general and in particular the AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit and the annual publication: Australia’s mothers and babies.

      healthdirect at

      Population and Public Health Division. Improved reporting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on population datasets in New South Wales using record linkage–a feasibility study. Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health, 2012. Available at:

      Australian Council on Healthcare Standards. Obstetrics Indicator Users' Manual 2012. Obstetrics version 7. Sydney: ACHS, 2012. Available at:

    • Key points: Deaths
        • In 2013, there were 49,066 deaths of residents in NSW. The number increased by only around 20% between 1983 and 2013. This is despite an almost 38% increase in the NSW population in that time.

        • The age standardised death rate was 528.9 per 100,000 in NSW in 2013.  This rate has decreased around 87% over the 30 year period from 1983 to 2013.

        • In 2013, the age-adjusted male death rate was 46% higher than the female death rate. This difference has declined from almost 66% in 1983.

        • In 2013, there were 372 infant deaths in NSW, which was 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in Australia was 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013.

    • 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 528.9 deaths per 100,000 population per year in NSW in 2013 (preliminary death data, from Australian Coordinating Registry (ACR)). There were 49,066 deaths per year in NSW in this year - 25,237 men and 23,829 women died.

      The ABS reported age-standardised death rate in NSW in 2013 was 5.4 deaths per 1,000 people and 5.4 deaths per 1,000 people in the whole of Australia. The ABS reported rate was 5.4 in NSW in 2013 (ABS 3302.0), very similar to the ACR source. Some differences 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 World Health Organization 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 1,000 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 1,000 in 2008, which placed it in fifth (WHO 2010).

      Causes of death in NSW by sex and age in 2012 and 2013

      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 2013. 3302.0. Canberra: ABS, 2014. Available at:

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

      World Health Organization. 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

      healthdirect at

Last Updated At: Tuesday, 22 September 2015