What are the costs of stillbirth? Capturing the direct health care and macroeconomic costs in Australia

Emily J. Callander, Joseph Thomas, Haylee Fox, David Ellwood, Vicki Flenady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Reducing stillbirth rates is an international priority; however, little is known about the cost of stillbirth. This analysis sought to quantify the costs of stillbirth in Australia. Methods: Mothers and costs were identified by linking a state-based registry of all births between 2012 and 2015 to other administrative data sets. Costs from time of birth to 2 years postbirth were included. Propensity score matching was used to account for differences between women who had a stillbirth and those that did not. Macroeconomic costs were estimated using value of lost output analysis and value of lost welfare analysis. Results: Cost to government was on average $3774 more per mother who had a stillbirth compared with mothers who had a live birth. After accounting for gestation at birth, the cost of a stillbirth was 42% more than a live birth (P <.001). Costs for inpatient services, emergency department services, services covered under Medicare (such as primary and specialist care, diagnostic tests and imaging), and prescription pharmaceuticals were all significantly higher for mothers who had a stillbirth. Mothers who had a stillbirth paid on average $1479 out of pocket, which was 52% more than mothers who had a live birth after accounting for gestation at birth (P <.001). The value of lost output was estimated to be $73.8 million (95% CI: 44.0 million-103.9 million). The estimated value of lost social welfare was estimated to be $18 billion. Discussion: Stillbirth has a sustained economic impact on society and families, which demonstrates the potential resource savings that could be generated from stillbirth prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalBirth: Issues in Perinatal Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • costs
  • decision-making
  • economics
  • resource use
  • stillbirth

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