Mums birthing healthy bubs in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
[supplied by AIHW]
Image: Raising children network
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Almost 9 in 10 (87%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies are born with a healthy birthweight (between 2,500 and 4,499 grams), with numbers remaining steady between 2005 and 2020.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) latest report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies, explores the demographics, risk factors and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.
The birth rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 75 per 1,000 females of reproductive age (15–44 years) in 2020, higher than the birth rate of non-Indigenous females (55 per 1,000 females).
In 2020, 6.2% (18,228) of all babies born in Australia were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and almost 9 in 10 (87%) were born at term (37–42 weeks).
‘Research has shown avoiding smoking and access to early and regular antenatal care can result in positive outcomes for babies,’ said AIHW spokesperson Deanna Eldridge.
Babies were more likely to have a healthy birthweight if the mother did not smoke. Recent data reveals that the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who smoked during pregnancy has decreased from 51% in 2010 to 43% in 2020.
‘Clinical guidelines recommend that mothers attend their first antenatal care visit within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy,’ Ms. Eldridge said.
The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who attended antenatal care in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy increased from 39% in 2012 to 58% in 2020. Antenatal care visits in the first trimester (before 14 weeks of pregnancy) also increased from 50% to 71% over the same period.
‘The earlier uptake in antenatal care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers is an important part of ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies are born healthy and strong,’
‘Mothers under the age of 20 can have an increased risk of maternal and infant complications and adverse pregnancy outcomes,’ Ms. Eldridge said.
The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who gave birth under the age of 20 has halved from 22% in 2005 to 11% in 2020. The average age of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who gave birth was 26.5 years in 2020. In comparison, the average age of non-Indigenous females who gave birth was 31.2 years.
‘The report shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who live in very remote or socioeconomically disadvantaged areas have less access to antenatal care and overall poorer health outcomes,’ Ms. Eldridge said.
The percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who lived in the most disadvantaged area decreased from 50% in 2012 to 44% in 2020.
Today’s release is the first comprehensive report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies in over 15 years. These data contribute important evidence to improve health and welfare outcomes for mothers and babies.