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Data Collection Overview

National Perinatal Data Collection (NPDC)

Data Collection Sources

Compiled from state and territory perinatal data collections.

Institutional environments

The NPDC is based on births reported to the perinatal data collection in each state and territory in Australia. Midwives and other birth attendants, using information obtained from mothers and from hospital or other records, complete notification forms for each birth. A standard de-identified extract is provided to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on an annual basis to form the NPDC. The NPDC includes the Perinatal National Minimum Data Set (NMDS). States and territories provide data under the terms of the National Health Information Agreement (721KB DOC).
Data specifications for the NPDC are documented in the AIHW online metadata repository and the Perinatal National Minimum Data Set (NMDS).
The AIHW is Australia’s national agency for health and welfare statistics and information. The role of the AIHW is to provide information on Australia’s health and welfare, through statistics and data development that inform discussion and decisions on policy and services.

Relevance and Scope

The NPDC comprises data items as specified in the Perinatal National Minimum Data Set plus additional items collected by the states and territories. The purpose of the NPDC is to collect information at birth for monitoring pregnancy, childbirth and the neonatal period for both the mother and baby.

The scope of the NPDC is all births in Australia in hospitals, birth centres and the community. Information is included in the NPDC for both live births and stillbirths, where gestational age is at least 20 weeks or birthweight is at least 400 grams, except in Victoria and Western Australia, where births are included if gestational age is at least 20 weeks or, if gestation is unknown, birthweight is at least 400 grams. The NPDC includes data items relating to the mother—including demographic characteristics and factors relating to the pregnancy, labour and birth—and data items relating to the baby—including birth status (live birth or stillbirth), sex, gestational age at birth, birthweight and neonatal morbidity and deaths. The scope of the NPDC has not changed over time. Many of the core data elements have also not changed since the beginning of the data collection in 1991. Definitions and data domains of some individual data elements have changed over time in response to data development; however, in many cases, data can be mapped to create a consistent time series.
A program of national perinatal data development has led to improvements in data provision and reporting. The program involves revision of existing Perinatal NMDS and NBEDS data elements, data development work on existing perinatal METeOR data elements and the development of new perinatal data elements. Developments to the Perinatal NMDS and NBEDS are underway to include additional data elements, such as alcohol use in pregnancy, mental health screening and family violence screening. Due to the time lag between development, implementation and collection of data by the state and territory perinatal data collections and their inclusion in the NPDC, these items will not appear in published data until after 2020, subject to quality assessment. New data elements introduced into the NPDC in the reference period may not be available for the entire period.


NPDC data are collated annually for calendar years. Most jurisdictions need at least 12 months lead time to undertake data entry, validation and linking with hospitals data as required after the end of the data collection period. Data are published annually in Australia’s mothers and babies, with 2017 data published on 27 June 2019, 18 months after the end of the data collection period.


Inaccurate responses may occur in all data provided to the AIHW. The AIHW does not have direct access to state and territory perinatal records to determine the accuracy of the data provided. However, the AIHW does undertake validation on all data provided by the states and territories. Data received from the states and territories are checked for completeness, validity and logic errors. Potential errors are queried with jurisdictions, and corrections and resubmissions are made in response to these edit queries.
Errors may occur during the processing of data by the states and territories or at the AIHW. Processing errors before data supply may be found through the validation checks applied by the AIHW. The AIHW does not adjust data to account for possible data errors or to correct for missing data.
Before publication, data are referred back to jurisdictions for checking and review. Note that because of data editing and subsequent updates of state and territory databases, numbers reported may differ from those in reports published by the states and territories.
According to the NHDD, Indigenous status is a measure of whether a person identifies as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin. All states and territories have a data item to record Indigenous status of the mother on their perinatal form, although there are some differences among the jurisdictions. For 2016, data on the Indigenous status of the baby was also available from all states and territories.
Neonatal deaths collected as part of the NPDC may be incomplete. In some jurisdictions, neonatal deaths for babies transferred to another hospital or readmitted to hospital, and those dying at home, may not be included. Neonatal deaths for the Northern Territory are considered to be incomplete for 2016 as data do not include deaths occurring outside the Northern Territory. Differences in mortality rates may be due to the small number of deaths, which result in statistical fluctuations, under-ascertainment, or actual differences in mortality experience.
Freebirths may be included in the NPDC if they are in scope of the data collection, and the mother or baby present to hospital following birth or the birth is registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. However, this differs by state and territory.


A variety of products draw upon the NPDC. Products published by the AIHW that are based primarily on data from the NPDC include:
  • Australia's mothers and babies in-brief report
  • Australia's mothers and babies data visualisations
  • National Core Maternity Indicators reports and data visualisations.

Ad hoc data are also available on request (charges apply to recover costs).

Data for selected indicators are also published in AIHW and other products such as: 
AIHW products
  • Australia’s health
  • Children's Headline Indicators
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health performance framework
Other products
  • National Healthcare Agreement performance information
  • National Indigenous Reform Agreement performance information
  • National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development
  • Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage
  • Report on Government Services.

The latest publication on the NPDC is  Australia's mothers and babies 2017 - in brief. This is the twenty-seventh annual report on pregnancy and childbirth in Australia, providing national information on women who gave birth and the characteristics and outcomes of their babies.


Supporting information on the quality and use of the NPDC is published annually in Australia’s mothers and babies (Appendix A in the 2017 edition), and is available in hard copy or on the AIHW website. Comprehensive information on the quality of Perinatal NMDS data items is published in Perinatal National Minimum Data Set compliance evaluation: 2010-2015.
Readers are advised to read caveat information to ensure appropriate interpretation of data. Metadata information for the NPDC are published in the National Health Data Dictionary (NHDD) on METeOR and in the Maternity Information Matrix.
The NPDC contributes to 2 Essential Statistical Assets for Australia (ESA 207 Birth statistics and ESA 133 Early Childhood Development), and was included in the ESA quality assessment process (based on the ABS Data Quality Framework) in 2014. For further information see the ABS publication Essential Statistical Assets for Australia, 2014.

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