Australia’s stillbirth rate has barely changed in the last 20 years and is today 30 per cent higher than other developed countries, making it past time to focus investment on addressing this neglected epidemic, the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) has told the Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education.

“As well as being a tragedy for parents and families, stillbirths are a major public health issue. It is of critical concern that stillbirths have become a neglected epidemic in Australia,” Australian College of Nursing CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said. “The death of an unborn child has long-term psychosocial and economic consequences on parents, families, carers, health systems and communities.”

To tackle this national issue, ACN insists on access to reliable data, identifying preventable risk factors and establishing programs that educate pregnant women on risks of stillbirth. ACN strongly believes support services should become more inclusive of people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, given the higher rates experienced by women in these demographic groups.

“ACN wants to ensure the Centre for Research Excellence in Stillbirth Research continues to be funded at a level that enables it to conduct its vital work,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.

In its submission, ACN also recommended investigating how new technology and innovations can play a role in the capture of valuable data.

“As an example of potential sources of information, our submission highlights Fitbit® technology. These devices are capable of tracking a range of health measures, such as activity, exercise, sleep and heart rate, for real-time information over a 24-hour period throughout pregnancy. This type of data could help identify risks or commonalities we are not currently aware of and reduce stillbirths in this country.”

For more information about the Australian College of Nursing’s submission visit: https://www.acn.edu.au/20180613-acn-position-on-stillbirth-research-and-education-in-australia-final

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