Australia's mothers and babies 1995
- In 1995, 260,044 babies born to 256,378 mothers were notified to perinatal data collections in the States and Territories, a decrease of 0.5% from 1994. More mothers had their babies in birth centres than in previous years and home births increased in 1995.
- The average age of all mothers in 1995 was 28.4 years, and 26.5 years for those having their first baby, continuing the upward trend in recent years. There were 13,562 teenage mothers (5.3% of all mothers), of whom 4,388 were aged 17 years or younger.
- Although some women are deferring childbearing, in 1995 only 1 in 14 mothers had their first baby at 35 years or older. Nearly one in 9 mothers with private health insurance were in this group, compared with only 1 in 23 mothers who did not have health insurance.
- There were 7,779 Indigenous mothers (3.0% of all mothers), of whom 2,483 gave birth in Queensland, 1,739 in New South Wales, 1,446 in Western Australia, 1,244 in the Northern Territory, and smaller numbers in the other States and the Australian Capital Territory. Their average age was 24.0 years and there was a high proportion of teenage mothers (22.7%).
- The proportion of mothers who were born in other countries decreased slightly to 22.7% in 1995, down from 22.8% in 1994. Mothers born in Asia increased from 5.1% of all mothers in 1991 to 7.3% in 1995, reflecting the increasing number of confinements of mothers born in countries such as Vietnam (4,672), China (2,833), India (1,352), and the Philippines (2,665).
- Multiple pregnancies accounted for 1.4% of all confinements and included 3,476 twin pregnancies, 92 triplet pregnancies, and 2 quadruplet pregnancies.
- In 1995, almost 1 in 5 (19.3%) births was by caesarean section, slightly down from 19.4% in 1994, but still higher than in previous years. South Australia (23.2%) had the highest caesarean rate in 1995 and New South Wales (17.5%) the lowest. Caesarean rates were higher among older mothers, those having their first baby, and those with private health insurance. Mothers aged 35-39 years who were privately insured and having their first baby had a caesarean rate of 37.6%.
- More mothers had relatively short postnatal stays in hospital in 1995 than in previous years. The proportion who stayed less than 4 days increased from 20.2% in 1991 to 35.5% in 1995. Mothers without private health insurance had shorter postnatal stays than those with private health insurance.
- Low birthweight (less than 2,500g) occurred in 16,571 (6.4%) infants in 1995. The mean birthweight of infants of Indigenous mothers was 3,159g, 199g less than for all births; 11.8% of Indigenous infants had a low birthweight, almost twice the national proportion.
- Fetal, neonatal and perinatal death rates were 5.0, 3.2 and 8.1 per 1,000 births, respectively, in 1995, slightly higher for fetal and perinatal death rates and slightly lower for neonatal death rates when compared to 1994. Rates remain low, having steadily declined for the past two decades. The perinatal death rate of twins was 4.3 times higher, and of other multiple births nearly 10 times higher, than the death rate of singleton babies.
- In 1995, the survival up to 28 days of low birthweight infants varied from 63.9% for infants of 500-999g to 94.1% for those weighing 1000-1499g, and 98.2% for infants of 1500-1999g.