- + Key points: Low birth weight
• Between 2009 and 2014, the numbers of births in NSW increased from 96,439 to 97,326, a rise of 0.9%.
• The proportion of mothers who were teenagers continued to fall, from 3.5% in 2009 to 2.7% in 2014.
• The proportion of births to mothers over 35 years of age has remained stable since 2009.
• The proportion of mothers who smoked during pregnancy fell from 12.0% in 2009 to 9.3% in 2014.
• The proportion of babies with low birth weight remained stable over the period from 2009 to 2014 at around 6%.
• The proportion of preterm births was 7.7% of all births in 2014, an increase of around 20% in the previous twenty years.
• The perinatal mortality rate was 7.8 per 1,000 births in 2014. Over the period from 2008 to 2013 the perinatal mortality rate varied between 8.0 and 8.7 per 1,000 births.
• In 2013, there were 372 infant deaths in NSW, which was 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in Australia was 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies
• In 2011, a change to the data collection resulted in a more specific question concerning commencement of antenatal care. This change has caused an apparent decrease in the proportion of mothers who commenced antenatal care at less than 14 weeks gestation. Among Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers, the proportion commencing antenatal care at less than 14 weeks gestation was 71.3% in 2010 compared with 61.2% in 2011. A similar effect has been observed in mothers of non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent with 79.6% commencing antenatal care at less than 14 weeks gestation in 2010 compared with 71.7% in 2011. In 2014, 54.4% of Aboriginal mothers and 59.9% of non-Aboriginal mothers commenced antenatal care before 14 weeks gestation.
• The proportion of mothers smoking in pregnancy among Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers was 45.2% in 2014. From 2011, two questions about smoking in pregnancy are asked at data collection. These revised questions provide more opportunity for women to report their smoking history and are likely to produce a more reliable measure of smoking rates in pregnancy than the original question asked in the previous years.
• The perinatal mortality rate among babies born to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers was 12.3 per 1,000 in 2014, higher than the rate of 7.6 per 1,000 for babies born to non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander mothers.
- + Background: Low birth weight
The health of Australian mothers and babies is generally good by world standards. Maternal deaths are rare, and perinatal mortality rates are low.
The average woman in NSW can currently expect to give birth to 1.9 babies in her lifetime.
NSW mothers are getting older with the mean maternal age at first birth around 29 years and at subsequent birth just over 30. The proportion of teenage mothers is declining.
Burden of disease and social and economic disadvantage
Aboriginal mothers and babies, those from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, and some overseas-born mothers and their babies continue to experience worse outcomes than other NSW mothers and babies.
- + For more information: Low birth weight
NSW Ministry of Health at http://health.nsw.gov.au , in particular see the annual publication by the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence New South Wales Mothers and Babies. The latest edition is available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/hsnsw/Pages/mothers-and-babies-2014.aspx
Australian Bureau of Statistics at http://www.abs.gov.au, in particular see Births (ABS Cat no 3301.0)
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at http://www.aihw.gov.au in general and in particular the AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit and the annual publication: Australia’s mothers and babies.
healthdirect at http://www.healthdirect.gov.au
Population and Public Health Division. Improved reporting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on population datasets in New South Wales using record linkage–a feasibility study. Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health, 2012. Available at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/hsnsw/Publications/atsi-data-linkage-report.pdf
Australian Council on Healthcare Standards. Obstetrics Indicator Users' Manual 2012. Obstetrics version 7.2. Sydney: ACHS, 2012. Available at: https://www.ranzcog.edu.au/component/docman/doc_view/267-obstetric-indicators.html?Itemid=946