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Varied outcomes for maternal and child health, AIHW report shows


Morgan Liotta


19/04/2018 3:31:01 PM

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a report on the health of mothers and their babies, revealing varied outcomes across the country.

While the AIHW report shows that the health of Australia’s mothers and their babies has improved overall, trends vary throughout the country.
While the AIHW report shows that the health of Australia’s mothers and their babies has improved overall, trends vary throughout the country.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) Healthy communities: Child and maternal health in 2013–2015 presents key findings on four indicators measuring the health of babies and their mothers:

  • Infant and young child deaths
  • Low birthweight rates
  • Mothers smoking during pregnancy
  • Antenatal care visits during the first trimester of pregnancy 
These indicators are reported nationally across Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas, as well as by smaller local areas, and results vary across all four indicators.
 
The AIHW report reveals that the overall health of pregnant women and their babies has improved, with smoking during pregnancy and infant death rates declining.
 
Despite generally positive results, however, these trends vary according to where the women and babies live.
 
Key data from the report relating to the four health indicators reveal that, the infant and young child mortality rate was 4.1 deaths per 1000 live births between 2013 and 2015. A rate of 4.9 deaths per 1000 live births was recorded in regional PHN areas, 1.4 times the rate for metropolitan PHN areas at 3.5 per 1000 live births.
 
Nationally, the proportion of low birthweight babies was 4.9%, with 5.2% in regional PHN areas, and 4.7% in metropolitan PHN areas.
 
Eleven per cent of women smoked during pregnancy, with overall rates varying substantially across PHN areas: 17% in regional areas and 7.9% in metropolitan areas. Almost half (46.5%) of Aboriginal and Torres Islander women were found to smoke during pregnancy.
 
More than half (63%) of all mothers attended antenatal visits during the first trimester of pregnancy, a figure that has remained steady.
 
According to AIHW spokesperson Anna O’Mahony, despite the report generally producing positive results across these indicators nationally, these positive trends are not seen equally across the 31 PHN areas.
 
‘While nationally there has been a consistent decrease in some health indicators – for example, the proportion of mothers smoking during pregnancy falling from about one in seven mothers in 2009 to one in 10 in 2015 – rates in some PHN areas are nearly 18 times as high as in others,’ she said.



AIHW infant-mortality maternal-and-child-health smoking-during-pregnancy



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