Disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal perinatal mortality rates in Western Australia from 1980 to 2015

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Perinatal mortality rates are typically higher in Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal populations of Australia.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine the pattern of stillbirth and neonatal mortality rate disparities over time in Western Australia, including an evaluation of these disparities across gestational age groupings.

METHODS: All singleton births (≥20 weeks gestation) in Western Australia between 1980 and 2015 were included. Linked data were obtained from core population health datasets of Western Australia. Stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates and percentage changes in the rates over time were calculated by Aboriginal status and gestational age categories.

RESULTS: From 1980 to 2015, data were available for 930 926 births (925 715 livebirths, 5211 stillbirths and 2476 neonatal deaths). Over the study period, there was a substantial reduction in both the Aboriginal (19.6%) and non-Aboriginal (32.3%) stillbirth rates. These reductions were evident in most gestational age categories among non-Aboriginal births and in Aboriginal term births. Concomitantly, neonatal mortality rates decreased in all gestational age windows for both populations, ranging from 32.1% to 77.5%. The overall stillbirth and neonatal mortality rate differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal birth decreased by 0.6 per 1000 births and 3.9 per 1000 livebirths, respectively, although the rate ratios (RR 2.51, 95% CI 2.14, 2.94) and (RR 2.94, 95% CI 2.24, 3.85), respectively reflect a persistent excess of Aboriginal perinatal mortality across the study period.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite steady improvements in perinatal mortality rates in Western Australia over 3½ decades, the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal rates remains unchanged in relative terms. There is a continuing, pressing need to address modifiable risk factors for preventable early mortality in Aboriginal populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-420
JournalPaediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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