Perinatal Deaths

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


The registration of deaths is the responsibility of each state and territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. As part of the registration process, information about the cause of death is supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death or by a coroner. Perinatal deaths are certified using the Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death (MCCPD). Other information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred. This information is provided to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by individual Registries for coding and compilation into aggregate statistics. In addition, for coroner certified deaths, the ABS supplements this data with information from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).

Availability of high quality death statistics, and consequently population estimates and mortality data, is of importance to all levels of government (Commonwealth, State and Local). High quality mortality statistics are used as a fundamental measure of the health of the population.


The scope of perinatal death statistics includes all fetal deaths (at least 20 weeks' gestation or at least 400 grams' birth weight) and neonatal deaths (all live born babies who die within 28 completed days of birth, regardless of gestation or birth weight) registered in Australia. The ABS scope rules for fetal deaths are consistent with the legislated requirement for all state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages to register all fetal deaths which meet the above-mentioned gestation and birth weight criteria. Based on this legislative requirement, in the case of missing gestation and/or birth weight data, the fetal record is considered in scope and included in the dataset. A record is only considered out of scope if both gestation and birth weight data are present, and both fall outside the scope criteria (i.e. gestation of 19 weeks or fewer and birth weight of 399 grams or fewer). This scope was adopted for the 2007 Perinatal Deaths collection, and was applied to historical data for 1999-2006. For more information on the changes in scope rules see Perinatal Deaths, Australia, 2007 (cat. no. 3304.0) Explanatory Notes 18-20. These rules have been applied to all perinatal data presented in this publication.

The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of a perinatal death differs to that used by the ABS. The WHO definition includes all neonatal deaths, and those fetuses weighing at least 500 grams or having a gestational age of at least 22 weeks, or body length of 25 centimetres from crown to heel. A summary table based on the WHO definition of perinatal deaths is included in the perinatal data cube in this release.

Fetal deaths are registered as a stillbirth, and are not in scope of either the Births, Australia (cat. no. 3301.0) or Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0) collections. Fetal deaths are part of the Perinatal collection, but not the Causes of Death collection. Neonatal deaths are in scope of the Deaths, Causes of Death and Perinatal collections. Neonatal deaths output in the Causes of Death Collection are assigned an underlying cause of death, while all conditions listed on the death certificate are captured as multiple causes of death. Neonatal deaths output in the Perinatal deaths collection have their cause of death output according to main condition in infant/fetus and main condition in mother.


The coverage includes all perinatal deaths registered with each state/territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.


    Conceptual framework

Perinatal deaths comprise stillbirths (fetal deaths) and deaths of infants within the first 28 days of life (neonatal deaths). Stillbirths are defined to include fetuses weighing at least 400 grams or having a gestational age of 20 weeks.

    Main outputs

Perinatal causes of death are currently coded using the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10). Causes of death are certified in terms of the main condition in the fetus/infant and the main condition in the mother. Perinatal deaths are commonly cross-classified by birth weight, gestational age, age group of mother and state or territory of usual residence of the mother.

International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD-10)
Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) for Usual Residence.

    Other concepts (summary)
    • fetal death
    • stillbirth
    • neonatal death
    • perinatal death
    • neonatal death rate
    • fetal death rate
    • perinatal death rate
    • live births
    • period of gestation
    • total relevant births

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions

Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA)
Rest of State
Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4)
Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3)
Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2)
Local Governments Areas
Remoteness Areas


    Frequency comments
    Information is collected from the relevant Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, on a monthly basis.


Neonatal deaths by cause of death are available back to the early 1900s (from at least 1910). Perinatal deaths (including fetal deaths) were collected from 1973 using the ICD-8, ICD-9 and subsequently ICD-10. Each state/territory office of the ABS was responsible for the collection and processing of Perinatal deaths data registered with that state/territory up until 1993 when this function was centralised in the Brisbane office of the ABS.


    Data availability comments

Further information about cause of death statistics can be obtained by contacting the National Information Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

A national causes of death unit record file can be obtained through the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (data is available on application for legitimate research purposes only).

    26/09/2018 07:47 AM