Publications & Reports

Defining Preterm Birth and Stillbirth in the Western Pacific: A Systematic Review.

Connolly M, Phung L, Farrington E, Scoullar MJL, Wilson AN, Comrie-Thomson L, Homer CSE, Vogel JP
Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia.


Preterm birth and stillbirth are important global perinatal health indicators. Definitions of these indicators can differ between countries, affecting comparability of preterm birth and stillbirth rates across countries. This study aimed to document national-level adherence to World Health Organization (WHO) definitions of preterm birth and stillbirth in the WHO Western Pacific region. A systematic search of government health websites and 4 electronic databases was conducted. Any official report or published study describing the national definition of preterm birth or stillbirth published between 2000 and 2020 was eligible for inclusion. A total of 58 data sources from 21 countries were identified. There was considerable variation in how preterm birth and stillbirth was defined across the region. The most frequently used lower gestational age threshold for viability of preterm birth was 28 weeks gestation (range 20-28 weeks), and stillbirth was most frequently classified from 20 weeks gestation (range 12-28 weeks). High-income countries more frequently used earlier gestational ages for preterm birth and stillbirth compared with low- to middle-income countries. The findings highlight the importance of clear, standardized, internationally comparable definitions for perinatal indicators. Further research is needed to determine the impact on regional preterm birth and stillbirth rates.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health
  • Published: 24/06/2021
  • Volume: 33
  • Issue: 5
  • Pagination: 489-501