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Birthing deaths on way down

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/06/2017
<span style="font-size:13px;">The number of babies dying shortly before or after birth has come down in "small but significant" numbers over the past decade, officials say.</span> © Corbis The number of babies dying shortly before or after birth has come down in "small but significant" numbers over the past decade, officials say.

New Zealand's rate of babies dying shortly before or after birth is at its lowest since records began a decade ago.

There was one stillbirth per 196 births in 2015, the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee said on Tuesday.

It was a small but significant improvement from when reporting first began in 2007, when there was one stillbirth for every 178 births, it said.

Reduced rates of pregnant women smoking, better and earlier access to antenatal care and a decrease in teenage births (suggesting better access to contraception) were among the likely causes for the improvement, says committee chairwoman Sue Belgrave.

"Each death is a tragedy for the family and whanau involved, and it is very important to reduce these deaths and enhance maternity care in New Zealand," she said.

PERINATAL MORTALITY FIGURES:

* A reduction in stillbirths from 369 in 2007 to 305 in 2015

* The neonatal mortality rate has not changed from 2007 to 2015

* An unusually high number of deaths of babies at 41 weeks' gestation in 2015

* 11 maternal deaths in 2015

* The maternal death rate for Maori mothers is almost double that of Pakeha mothers

* Suicide of mothers accounted for 26 per cent of maternal deaths from 2006 to 2015, and Maori women were over-represented in suicide deaths

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