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Victoria's children are safer than ever before - report (31/1/07) Wednesday, 31 January 2007 Compiled by - Graeme Walker DHS Media Unit, Phone - 9616 7055

Wednesday, January 31, 2007.


Victoria’s children are safer than ever before, a key report on Victoria’s children has found.

Deaths of children in car accidents and in drownings in home swimming pools are at their lowest-ever level, the number of infants who die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has plummeted over the past two decades, and spontaneous stillbirths and early infant deaths are also at very low levels, said Associate Professor James King, chairman of the Consultative Council on Obstetric & Paediatric Mortality & Morbidity.

The information is contained in the Consultative Council’s 2005 Annual Report of Perinatal Deaths in Victoria.

Prof King said the report showed that 12 children aged under 14 died in motor vehicle accidents in 2005 – down from 69 deaths in 1985. One child died in a domestic swimming pool drowning in 2005, compared with nine in 1985.

“Improvements in motor vehicle safety features, including infant and child restraints and bicycle helmets, stricter road safety rules and driver behaviour have contributed to ongoing reductions in the road toll, while legislation requiring backyard swimming pools to be fenced has cut the rate of drownings,” he said.

There has been a sharp decline in the number of SIDS cases since 1990, following an extensive public education campaign, which highlighted the association between face-down sleeping and SIDS. As a result of increased awareness of safe sleeping practices, the number of infants dying from SIDS in Victoria has fallen from 115 in 1990, to 16 in 2005.

The Council’s 44th report includes statistical information about maternal, perinatal, infant and paediatric deaths (up to the 18th birthday).

Prof King said the Council’s research showed a high standard and availability of maternity, neonatal and paediatric care, both in hospital and community settings.

Of the 65,429 confinements in 2005, there were seven maternal deaths compared with 13 in 2004.

Of the 66,640 births in 2005 – 2948 more than in 2004 – 599 were stillborn and 247 died within the first month of life. The stillbirth rate was 9 per 1000 births, compared to 9.6 in 2004. 19% of stillbirths were unexplained and 17% were due to congenital malformations.

The leading causes of deaths of infants within the first month of life were congenital malformations (44%) and spontaneous preterm births (34%).

Prof King said Victoria’s perinatal death rate (stillbirths and deaths within seven days of birth), using the international definition, has dropped significantly over the past 30 years, from 12.3 per 1000 births in 1975 to 3.6 in 2005.

Media inquiries:
Bram Alexander, DHS Media Unit 9096 8803.
Internet: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/hs.html (F:Press 2007/ Perinatal /gw/22.1.07)

Media Release Attachment - Perinatal.doc [Word, 50176 Bytes]

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