The cost to the economy of stillbirths in Australia will be $681.4 million over the next five years, with the largest impact on workplaces, estimates a new study.
There is no way to measure the personal cost of a life birthed, but not lived. No way to measure the impact of an absence where a someone was anticipated, of a hoped-for child who can be held, but not held on to. For these reasons, stillbirth, despite the unfortunate truth of being all-too-common, with six stillborn babies a day in Australia, is seen as being all-too-personal, instead of a national health crisis.
‘There were 1718 stillbirths recorded in Australia in 2015, or about five per day.’
The Stillbirth Foundation Australia commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct the study, as part of its efforts to draw more attention to the number of babies stillborn in Australia each year.
The Foundation said while the emotional toll on families was incalculable, it is first time the economic cost of stillbirths has been modelled.
PwC found almost $280m would be lost from the economy between 2016 and 2020 because parents who had suffered a stillbirth would be absent from work, or unable to carry out all of their regular duties.
Foundation patron Kristina Keneally said being able to place an economic cost on stillbirth could help shift the issue as one seen as a "personal problem, something that effects individual families" to a "health crisis, a health challenge that has economic cost to our community", hopefully prompting governments to respond.
"Both our states and federal governments should look at stillbirth for what it is - a health problem for which there are promising leads, which suggest we can reduce it," she said.
"Not just because it's the right thing to do, but also because it's the financially astute thing to do, we need more government investment in preventative measures to drive down stillbirth," the CEO of the Foundation, Victoria Bowring said.