Five stillborn births each day in Australia last year, new figures show.

New figures show 1,718 babies were stillborn in Australia last year, at a rate of about five per day.

The Stillbirth Foundation Australia said while the figures may be shocking to some, the rate of stillbirths in Australia has not changed much in decades.

“We know there is up to a third of stillbirths annually that are preventable,” the foundation’s CEO, Victoria Bowring, told AM.

“What we need is funding to rollout education programs [and] national health campaigns just to educate not only pregnant woman but health clinicians and other professionals in the system.”

The foundation is using the annual data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to renew calls for governments and the private sector to invest more funding and research into what it calls a national health crisis.

Its patron, former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally, said there was not enough awareness about stillbirths.

“There are 35 stillbirths today in Australia for every incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and it was research that drove the insights into how to prevent SIDS,” Ms Keneally said.

“We’ve seen SIDS drop dramatically in Australia and around the world as a result of Australian research, and I’m convinced there is research that we can do, there are answers we can get, there is advice that we can give to parents [about stillbirth] that we’re simply not doing now.”

Ms Keneally had a stillborn daughter, Caroline, in 1999 and said the difficulty in talking about it was a factor.

“I do think it’s an incredibly hard thing to talk about, stillbirth, it’s hard for parents to talk about because it is such an extraordinary tragedy, it is devastatingly sad,” she said.

“When my husband and I lost our daughter it took me years to be able to speak about it publicly.”

The foundation said there were relatively simple steps expectant parents could take to improve their chances of having a healthy delivery.

“We know that sleeping on your left side is a possible prevention for stillbirth, we know that baby’s movement is vital to monitoring the health of your baby and any changes in those movement patterns need to be reported to a hospital, your midwife, your obstetrician as soon as you notice the change,” Ms Bowring said.

This post originally appeared on ABC News


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