Home | Industry & Reform | Campaign launched to help reduce number of stillbirths

Campaign launched to help reduce number of stillbirths

The Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence (SCRE) and Safer Care Victoria have launched a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of decreased fetal movements (DFM) among expectant parents and their care providers in Victoria.

Every day in Australia at least six babies are stillborn, with research suggesting that up to one-third of these deaths are preventable.

SCRE said that the condition reduces movement (either in strength or frequency), and could be a sign that the baby is at risk of stillbirth and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The organisation advises that women contact their health care provider such as their doctor, nurse or midwife, if they are concerned about their baby’s movements.

Its Clinical Practice Guideline for the Care of Women with Decreased Fetal Movements said 40 per cent of pregnant women express concern about DFM one or more times during pregnancy, and 4-16 per cent of women contact their health care provider because of concern during the third trimester.

“Even in pregnancies that are initially deemed as low risk, DFM is associated with the risk of adverse perinatal outcome, including fetal growth restriction, preterm birth and stillbirth,” the document said.

Stillbirth affects over 2,500 families per year across Australia and New Zealand, with one baby being stillborn for every 142 births across Australia.

The paper outlined that fetal death rates have failed to show any significant reduction for more than a decade, while the decline in perinatal and neonatal mortality rates in high income countries is largely attributed to advances in neonatal care.

“Both Australia and New Zealand report fetal deaths from 20 weeks, and neonatal deaths up to 28 days after birth.

"Many stillbirth cases have been labelled as unexplained deaths and occur in late gestation in apparently healthy pregnancies.

“Many of these babies are, however, found to be growth-restricted after birth, indicating potential for the prevention of some of these deaths if antenatal detection and appropriate intervention had been achieved,” the report said.

Other factors which are associated with an increased risk of stillbirth in a high-income country environment include maternal age being over 35 years, obesity, smoking or pre-existing maternal diabetes or hypertension, the report read.

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