The stillbirth rate for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants remains higher than non‐Indigenous rates. Risks for stillbirth include maternal factors such as ethnicity, age, geographic location, and physical health. Fetal risk factors include gestational age, birthweight and congenital anomalies. The total stillbirth rate for all babies born at the Townsville University Hospital during the study period was 11 per 1000 births.
To identify Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stillbirth rates, risk factors and causes in North Queensland.
Materials and Methods
A retrospective chart audit was conducted to identify Indigenous women who had experienced stillbirth in the Townsville University Hospital between January 2005 and December 2014.
Thirty‐two charts were available for audit. The stillbirth rate for non‐Indigenous infants was 10.3 per 1000 births. The stillbirth rate for Indigenous infants was 11.7 per 1000 births. Almost half of the women lived in rural, remote or very remote areas. Maternal risk factors included poorer physical health, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and smoking, fertility issues and lack of antenatal care. Fetal risk factors included congenital anomalies, including cardiac and skeletal abnormalities, placental disorders, and preterm birth.
Stillbirth risk remains higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies. Supporting women to enhance their health is paramount, particularly during pregnancy. Further, increasing awareness of stillbirth risk factors through education for both women and healthcare professionals will support culturally responsive care for women and their families to mitigate stillbirth risk and enhance pregnancy outcomes in non‐urban Queensland.