Australia's mothers and babies 1998
Australia's Mothers and Babies 1998 provides information on births in Australia from perinatal data collections for each State and Territory. The report examines demographic and pregnancy factors of mothers and the characteristics and outcomes of their babies.
This report will be particularly useful to consumers of perinatal health care services, perinatal health service planners and those providing services or conducting research in reproductive and perinatal health.
Australia's Mothers and Babies 1998 was produced by the AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit based at the University of New South Wales.
- In 1998, 255,522 babies born to 251,650 mothers were notified to perinatal data collections in the States and Territories.
- The average age of all mothers in 1998 was 28.9 years, and 27.0 years for those having their first baby, continuing the upward trend in recent years. There were 12,920 teenage mothers (5.1% of all mothers), of whom 4,088 were aged 17 years or younger.
- Although some women are deferring childbearing, in 1998 only 1 in 11 mothers had their first baby at age 35 years or older.
- There were 8,642 Indigenous mothers (3.4% of all mothers), of whom 2,731 gave birth in Queensland, 2,043 in New South Wales, 1,504 in Western Australia, 1,248 in the Northern Territory, with smaller numbers in the other States and the Australian Capital Territory. The average age of Indigenous mothers was 24.7 years and there was a high proportion of teenage mothers (21.3%).
- The proportion of mothers who were born in a country other than Australia was 22.0% in 1998.
- Multiple pregnancies accounted for 1.5% of all confinements and included 3,645 twin pregnancies, 104 triplet pregnancies, and 2 higher order pregnancies.
- In 1998, more than 1 in 5 (21.1%) births were by caesarean section. South Australia (23.9%) had the highest caesarean rate in 1998 and the Australian Capital Territory (18.8%) the lowest. Caesarean rates were higher among older mothers, those having their first baby, and those who were private patients.
- More mothers had relatively short postnatal stays in hospital in 1998 than in previous years. The proportion who stayed less than 2 days increased from 3.2% in 1991 to 10.9% in 1998, while the proportion of those staying between 2 and 4 days increased from 35% to 53.1% in the same period. Mothers without private health insurance had shorter postnatal stays than those with private health insurance.
- Low birthweight (less than 2,500 g) occurred in 16,854 (6.6%) babies in 1998, similar to 1997, but slightly higher than in other recent years. The mean birthweight of babies of Indigenous mothers was 3,169 g, 194 g less than the mean for all births; 11.8% of Indigenous babies had a low birthweight, almost twice the national proportion.