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 2016. Codes are described in the NSW Perinatal Data Collection Manual - 2016 Edition, which is available on the internet at

  • + Related Indicators
  • + Associated Information
    • Key points: Pregnancy and the newborn period

      Recent trends

      In 2016 there were 98,727 births to 97,306 mothers in NSW, a decrease of 0.8% from 99,510 births in 2012.  The percentage of multiple (twin and triplet) pregnancies has remained fairly stable over recent years at about 1.4%.

      Between 2012 and 2016:   

      • The proportion of mothers who were teenagers continued to fall, from 3.2% in 2012 to 2.2% in 2016.

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

      • The proportion of mothers who smoked at all during pregnancy fell from 10.4% in 2012 to 8.3% in 2016.

      • The proportion of babies with low birth weight remained stable over the period, ranging from 6.1% to 6.6%.

      • The proportion of preterm births was 7.3% of all births in 2016, a decrease from 7.6% in 2012.

      • The perinatal mortality rate was 7.5 per 1,000 births in 2016, decreasing from 8.3 per 1,000 births in 2012. 

      • In 2016, there were 260 infant deaths in NSW, which was 2.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in Australia was 3.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016.

      Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies

      • Between 2012 and 2016, the number of reported births to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers increased from 3,399 to 4,174, representing 3.4% and 4.2% respectively of all babies born in NSW.

      •Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers who were teenagers fell substantially from 18.6% in 2012 to 12.8% in 2016.

      •Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers who commenced antenatal care before 14 weeks of pregnancy increased from 51.0% to 64.6%.  

      • The proportion of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers smoking in pregnancy was 41.3% in 2016 compared with 49.9% in 2012.

      • The perinatal mortality rate among babies born to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers was 12.2 per 1,000 in 2016, higher than the rate of 7.3 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

      NSW Ministry of Health at, in particular see the annual New South Wales Mothers and Babies report, published by the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence. 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 User Manual 2013. Obstetrics version 7.2. Sydney: ACHS, 2013. Available at:">

    • Key points: Deaths

        • In 2016, there were 53,694 deaths of residents in NSW. The number of deaths has increased by around 17% in the 11 years since 2006. However the death rate has decreased by around 11% over this period due to an increasing population

        • The age standardised death rate was 590.0 per 100,000 in NSW in 2016.  

        • In 2016 the age-adjusted male death rate was around 41% higher than the female death rate (660.0 compared with 520.0 per 100,000 respectively). This difference has declined from almost 49% over the last 11 years since 2006.

        • In 2016, there were 260 infant deaths in NSW, which was 3.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in Australia was 3.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016.

    • 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 people in different age groups 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 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. 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 the 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).


      World Health Organization. World health statistics. Geneva: WHO. 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: Monday, 29 January 2018