6th PMMRC Report Released

The PMMRC's (Perinatal & Maternal Mortality Review Committee) sixth annual report was released in mid-June 2012. It presents data on perinatal and maternal deaths for 2010. There were 704 perinatal-related deaths in 2010, including 211 due to a congenital abnormality, 111 due to pre-term birth, and 78 due to haemorrhage during pregnancy. There were eight maternal deaths in 2010.

New Zealand’s maternal mortality rate – the death of a mother while pregnant or up to six weeks after birth – is significantly higher than that in the United Kingdom. Our perinatal mortality rate – the death of a baby from 20 weeks gestation up to 28 days after birth – is comparable with that in the United Kingdom.

Key points on perinatal mortality from the report include:
  • In 2010, the perinatal mortality rate was 10.1/1000 births, and the perinatal related mortality rate was 10.8/1000 births, which represents a small non-significant decrease compared to the previous year. This rate is higher than the rate in Australia in 2009 and similar to the United Kingdom in 2009.
  • Maori and Pacific mothers are more likely to have stillbirths and neonatal deaths compared to New Zealand European and non-Indian Asian mothers.
  • There is a significantly increased rate of stillbirth and neonatal death among mothers who live in the most deprived areas.
  • Teenage mothers are at higher risk of perinatal related mortality, specifically stillbirth and neonatal death, compared to mothers aged 20–39 years. Mothers of 40 years and older are also at increased risk of perinatal related mortality

To view the report, click on this link:



Sands New Zealand welcomes survey of bereaved mothers

Data on the experiences of bereaved mothers in our NZ maternity system and the care they received has been reported by the Ministry of Health for the first time.

'The survey results indicate what bereaved parents have been telling us for years' says Leonie Kirwan, national Chairperson of Sands New Zealand. 'While most families receive good care when their baby dies there is still much room for improvement. We want to see 100% of bereaved mothers feeling satisfied as opposed to the 67% in the survey. And we're concerned for the 14% who felt dissatisfied with their care'.  

Research on stillbirth, newborn death and perinatal loss

One of Sands New Zealand's goals is to promote research into the causes and consequences of stillbirth, newborn death or other reproductive loss.

Through this page we want to let you know about research that is being undertaken both in New Zealand and internationally.


About Our Multicentre Stillbirth Study

The death of an unborn child is a devastating event which affects approximately 500 New Zealand families every year; a rate of 8 per 1000 births.

Furthermore approximately 1 in 300 mothers have a stillborn baby after 28 weeks gestation (late stillbirth) which is particularly tragic as these babies have a high chance of intact survival if live-born.  Although there was a decline in the rate of stillbirth up to the 1980s and early 1990s, the rate of stillbirth in New Zealand (and in other high income countries) has been static over the last two decades.

The recently completed Auckland Stillbirth Study, gave us some insights into potentially modifiable factors associated with late stillbirth such as maternal obesity, high parity, reduced antenatal care attendance, maternal sleep practices and maternal perception of reduced fetal movements.

A larger study, our Multicentre Stillbirth Study, was required to confirm or refute these findings. Recruitment started in Auckland and Hamilton in February 2012.  We are pleased that further funding has just been confirmed to extend the study to Wellington, Palmerston and Christchurch.

The aim of the Multicentre Stillbirth Study is to identify modifiable risk factors for late stillbirth in New Zealand

Multicentre Stillbirth Study Design

Cases: Women with singleton pregnancies and late stillbirth 

Controls: For each stillbirth, two randomly selected controls with on-going pregnancies will be chosen from the DHB booking lists to act as a comparison. To avoid concerning these women unnecessarily about stillbirth, the study is described positively – explaining that it is research about fetal wellbeing to see why some babies do well in the pregnancy (like the babies of the women selected as controls) and why some don’t.

·         Recruitment:  As soon as possible following the diagnosis of the stillbirth and at the equivalent gestation in the controls.
·         There are two main parts to the study: An in-depth interview with the mother performed within a few weeks of the stillbirth and a review of her clinical records. The interview lasts around one hour and is usually in the woman’s home. The woman will be asked general questions about her health and lifestyle during her pregnancy.

Caring for Families Experiencing Stillbirth:
a Unified Position Statement on Contact with the Baby

Sands NZ was involved in this collaborative piece of work with 16 other organisations from around the world. This is a statement about the care of bereaved parents written by bereaved parents. We hope it will be read and embraced by all health and caring professionals.

We see this statement as an extension of the Sands NZ 'Three-point Model of Care' in which we recommend bereaved parents are the ones who should parent their baby, rather than others doing it for them.<

While the statement was written with stillbirth in mind, it can be applied to all experiences of perinatal and infant loss. We welcome you to copy this statement and disseminate it to whomever and wherever you think it may help.

A copy of this statement can be downloaded from here: Position Statement (0.34MB)