Stillbirth prevention program gets green light

11 March 2019

Queensland-led work to reduce Australia’s high rate of stillbirths has been boosted by a  $1.3 million government grant.

The funding will enable the Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth to launch a new stillbirth prevention program.

Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland researcher Professor Vicki Flenady said the National Health and Medical Research Council funding would assess the impact of The Safe Baby Bundle stillbirth prevention program for Australia.

The centre has previously reported that the stillbirth rate in Australia is about 35 per cent higher than the top performing countries globally.

Care deficiencies have been identified in up to 50 per cent of stillbirths, and the death was avoidable in 20-30 per cent of those cases.

“One baby for every 135 born in this country is a stillbirth, and it is still a serious public health problem,” Professor Flenady said.

“There has been little improvement over the past two decades, and our research efforts will address the gap between what is known and what is being done to prevent stillbirth.

“The goal of this program is to reduce stillbirths by 20 per cent and improve care and support for women throughout their pregnancy.

“The Safe Baby Bundle is a package of evidence-based recommendations for clinicians and women to help ensure the best possible outcome of pregnancy,” Professor Flenady said.

The bundle aims to improve the early detection and management of fetal growth and care for women with decreased fetal movements.

It will also use individualised treatment plans to encourage women to sleep on their side during the late stages of pregnancy and to stop smoking.

“This program is about clinicians, women and the wider community having a shared understanding of stillbirth and recognising the steps they can take to reduce the risks,” Professor Flenady said.

The National Health and Medical Research Council announced a total of $8.2 million for 11 Partnership Project grants, including Professor Flenady’s.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the grants would encourage research scientists and health policy and service delivery agencies to work together and develop evidence to improve health care.

“These projects are critical to translate research outcomes into the delivery of better health outcomes for Australians,” he said.

The bundle is being rolled out in partnership with the Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian health departments, who have collectively matched funding provided by The National Health and Medical Research Council, the Stillbirth Foundation Australia and Still Aware.

Media: Professor Vicki Flenady,; Faculty of Medicine Communications,, +61 7 3365 5133, +61 436 368 746.