” Most Indigenous mothers and their babies are doing well, with improvements in outcomes for mothers and babies observed in recent years.
There has been a notable increase in the proportion of Indigenous mothers attending an antenatal visit in the first trimester and a slight increase in the proportion attending 5 or more antenatal visits.
The rate of Indigenous mothers smoking during pregnancy has decreased, as has the proportion of low birthweight babies of Indigenous mothers. Despite these improvements, significant gaps remain between outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers and babies.
Although a range of data by Indigenous status has been presented in earlier chapters, this chapter provides more in-depth information on Indigenous mothers and their babies.”
From Chapter 4 AIHW Australian Australia’s mothers and babies 2016—in brief see in full Part 2 Below
Download the full AIHW report Here
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day is the largest national day to celebrate our children
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children.
The day was an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that community, culture and family play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child.
Children’s Day is held on 4 August each year and is coordinated by SNAICC – National Voice for our Children. Children’s Day was first observed in 1988, with 2017 being the 29th celebration. Each year SNAICC produces and distributes resources to help organisations, services, schools, and communities celebrate.
The theme for Children’s Day 2018 is SNAICC – Celebrating Our Children for 30 Years.
Our children are the youngest people from the longest living culture in the world, with rich traditions, lore and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Our children are growing up strong with connection to family, community and country. Our children are the centre of our families and the heart of our communities. They are our future and the carriers of our story.
This year, we invite communities to take a walk down memory lane, as we revisit some of the highlights of the last 30 years.
We look back on the empowering protest movements instigated by community that had led to the establishment of the first Children’s Day on 4 August 1988. We look back at all of the amazing moments we’ve shared with our children over the years, and how we’re watching them grow into leaders.
We look back to see what we’ve achieved, and decide where we want to go from here to create a better future for our children. If you have celebrated Children’s Day at any time during the past 30 years, we would love to hear from you.
AIHW Australian Australia’s mothers and babies 2016
About the report
Australia’s mothers and babies 2016—in brief presents an overview of the key statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Perinatal Data Collection.
The AIHW’s online perinatal data visualisation complements this report.
Detailed data tables, including state and territory data, are also available.
This report and the perinatal data visualisations are part of a comprehensive program of AIHW work in relation to maternal and perinatal care and outcomes. Other major projects include:
- National Core Maternity Indicators (NCMIs) data visualisations. The NCMIs monitor the safety and quality of maternity care to ensure there is continual improvement following the introduction of the National Maternity Services Plan (AHMC 2011)
- National Maternity Data Development Project (NMDDP). The NMDDP aims to build a more comprehensive and consistent national data collection for maternal and perinatal health, including development of clinical data items and maternity models of care and the establishment of ongoing national maternal and perinatal mortality data collection and reporting
- geographic reporting of maternal and perinatal indicators from the Performance Accountability Framework, latest report available at MyHealthyCommunities: Child and maternal health in 2013–2015. This publication presents detailed geographic data for indicators on antenatal care in the first trimester, smoking during pregnancy and low birthweight.
In 2016, 4.4% of all women who gave birth identified as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
These 13,608 women gave birth to 13,794 babies. Around 1 in 19 (5.2% or 16,479) of all babies born were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (based on the Indigenous status of the baby)
Indigenous mothers are more likely to be teenagers, and to live in remote or disadvantaged areas than non-Indigenous mothers
Younger maternal age, remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage of areas of usual residence are associated with increased risk of a number of poorer maternal and perinatal outcomes.
In 2016, Indigenous mothers, compared with non-Indigenous mothers, were:
- 7 times as likely to be teenage mothers (14% compared with 2%). Only 9% of Indigenous mothers were aged 35 and over compared with 23% of non-Indigenous mothers
- around 14 times as likely to live in Remote and Very Remote areas as non-Indigenous mothers (21% compared with 1.5%, respectively)—similar to the pattern for all women of reproductive age in the population
- 4 times as likely to live in the lowest socioeconomic status (SES) areas as non-Indigenous mothers. Almost 1 in 2 Indigenous mothers lived in the lowest SES areas compared with 1 in 5 non-Indigenous mothers.
More Indigenous mothers are accessing antenatal care in the first trimester
On average, in 2016, Indigenous mothers had 1 less antenatal vi sit than non-Indigenous mothers (9 and 10 visits, respectively—data exclude very pre -term births). Indigenous mothers were also more likely to attend antenatal care slightly later in pregnancy than non-Indigenous mothers—the average duration of pregnancy at the firs t antenatal visit was 13 and 12 weeks, respectively.
Fewer Indigenous mothers (62%) had their first antenatal visit in the first trimester of pregnancy (less than 14 completed weeks) than non-Indigenous mothers (67%) (age-standardised).
The age-standardised proportion of Indigenous mothers receiving antenatal care in the first trimester was highest in Inner regional areas (66%), compared with 58% in Major cities and Very remote areas. For non-Indigenous mothers, the proportion was highest in Outer regional areas (77%) and lowest in Major cities (64%).
The proportion of Indigenous mothers who attended antenatal care in the first trimesterincreased between 2010 and 2016, from 41% to 60%. For non -Indigenous mothers, there was a smaller increase over that time, from 61% to 67% (age -standardised; excludes data from New South Wales, see Appendix Table D2). This has resulted in a narrowing of the gap in antenatal care between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers
Indigenous mothers who gave birth at 32 weeks or more were also less likely to attend 5 or more antenatal visits than non-Indigenous mothers—86% of Indigenous mothers had 5 or more visits compared with 94% of non-Indigenous mothers (age-standardised).
Between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of mothers attending 5 or more visits increased slightly for Indigenous mothers (from 84.8% to 88.5%) while remaining similar for non-Indigenous mothers (from 95.1% to 95.6%) (age-standardised, excludes data from Victoria and Western Australia, see Appendix Table D2).
Fewer Indigenous mothers are smoking during pregnancy
Indigenous mothers accounted for 20% of mothers who smoked tobacco at any time during pregnancy in 2016, despite accounting for only around 4% of mothers.
About 2 in 5 Indigenous mothers reported smoking during pregnancy—43% compared with 12% of non-Indigenous mothers (age-standardised).
The age-standardised proportion of Indigenous mothers who smoked at any time during pregnancy decreased from 50% in 2009 to 43% in 2016. The proportion of non-Indignon-Indigenous mothers who smoked also decreased from 16% in 2009 to 12% in 2016.
The age-standardised rate of smoking cessation during pregnancy among Indigenous mothers was 13%, half the rate for non -Indigenous mothers (26%). This is based on mothers who reported smoking in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and not smoking after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Indigenous mothers were more likely to be obese or to have pre-existing diabetes or hypertension
Compared with non-Indigenous mothers, Indigenous mothers were:
- 7 times as likely to be obese (34% compared with 20%; age-standardised)
- 3 times and 4.7 times as likely to have gestational diabetes (15%) and pre-existing diabetes (3.3%), respectively (compared with 12% and 0.7%, respectively; age-standardised; excludes data from Victoria, see Appendix Table D2)
- 3 times as likely to have pre-existing (chronic) hypertension (1.0% compared with 0.8%).
Rates of gestational hypertension were similar for Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers (3.8% and 3.7%, respectively) (age standardised; excludes data from Victoria, see Appendix
Indigenous mothers were slightly more likely to have spontaneous labour onset
Indigenous mothers were slightly more likely to have spontaneous onset of labour (50%) and slightly less likely to have no labour (19%), compared with non-Indigenous mothers (47% and 22%, respectively), while rates of induced labour were the same for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers (31%) (age standardised).
Indigenous mothers who had labour were slightly less likely to receive pain relief during labour compared with non-Indigenous mothers (72% compared with 78%, respectively; age standardised).
Non-instrumental vaginal births were more common for Indigenous mothers
Method of birth is influenced by maternal age, but even when controlling for differences in age structure between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers, some differences remain. Indigenous mothers were: more likely to have a non-instrumental vaginal birth (62%) than non-Indigenous mothers (54%)
- less likely to have an instrumental vaginal delivery (6% compared with 12% of non-Indigenous mothers)
- slightly less likely to have a caesarean section (32% compared with 34% of non-Indigenous mothers; age-standardised).
Babies of Indigenous mothers
Babies of Indigenous mothers are more likely to be pre-term
In 2016, the average gestational age of babies of Indigenous mothers was 38.2 weeks, which was slightly lower than for babies of non-Indigenous mothers (38.6 weeks).
Around 1 in 7 babies of Indigenous mothers (14%) were born pre-term, compared with 8% of babies of non-Indigenous mothers.
Babies of Indigenous mothers who smoked were 1.3 times as likely to be born pre-term as babies born to non-Indigenous mothers who smoked.
Low birthweight rates are decreasing among babies of Indigenous mothers
In 2016, the average liveborn baby of an Indigenous mother weighed 125 grams less than a baby of a non-Indigenous mother (3,216 grams and 3,342 grams, respectively).
For liveborn babies of Indigenous mothers, 11.6% (1,583) were of low birthweight, compared with 6.3% (18,785) of babies with non-Indigenous mothers. These proportions were made up of:
- 5% of babies of Indigenous mothers and 5.4% of babies of non-Indigenous mothers in the low birthweight range of 1,500–2,499 grams
- 1% of babies of Indigenous mothers and 0.9% of babies of non-Indigenous mothers of very low birthweight (less than 1,500 grams)
- 1% of babies of Indigenous mothers and 0.8% of babies of non-Indigenous mothers of extremely low birthweight (less than 1,000 grams).
- There was a slight decrease in the proportion of low birthweight babies born to Indigenous mothers between 2006 and 2016, from 12.4% to 11.6%.
- The proportion of low birthweight babies with non-Indigenous mothers remained between 6.2% and 6.3% over this time. See Chapter 5 for more data on trends.
- Low birthweight babies of non-Indigenous mothers varied by remoteness, ranging from 6.3% in Major cities to 4.6% in Very remote areas. However, for babies of Indigenous mothers, the proportion was lowest in Major cities (10.7%) and highest in Very remote areas (15.0%).
- Babies of Indigenous mothers were also about 1.5 times as likely to be small for gestational age (13.7%) as babies of non-Indigenous mothers (9.4%).
Babies of Indigenous mothers are more likely to be admitted for specialised care
Apgar scores, use of resuscitation and admission to special care nurseries (SCNs) or neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) can give an indication of the health of newborn babies.
Liveborn babies of Indigenous mothers were more likely to be admitted to an SCN or NICU (24%) than babies of non-Indigenous mothers (17%) in 2016 (excludes data from New South Wales and Western Australia, see Appendix Table D2).
In 2016, similar proportions of liveborn babies to Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers:
- had an Apgar score of 7 or more at 5 minutes (97% and 98%, respectively)
- required some form of resuscitation (20% and 19%, respectively; excludes data from Western Australia, see Appendix Table D2).
Babies of Indigenous mothers, born in hospital and discharged home, had a shorter median length of stay in hospital (2 days) than those of non -Indigenous mothers (3 days). Almost 1 in 3 babies of Indigenous mothers (31%) stayed for 1 d ay or less, compared with 1 in 5 babies (20%) of non -Indigenous mothers.
However, babies of Indigenous mothers were 1.6 times as likely as those of non-Indigenous mothers to stay in hospital for 6 or more days (excludes data from Western Australia, see Appendix Table D2)
Higher rates of perinatal death among babies of Indigenous mothers
In 2016, there were 15 perinatal deaths for every 1,000 births among babies of Indigenous mothers—1.7 times the rate for babies of non-Indigenous mothers (9 per 1,000 births). This included:
- 11 fetal deaths (stillbirths) per 1,000 births for babies of Indigenous mothers and 4 fetal deaths per 1,000 births for babies of non-Indigenous mothers
- 6 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births for babies of Indigenous mothers and 2 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births for babies of non-Indigenous mothers.
Data on cause of death are available for Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The most notable differences in cause of death between babies of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers in the perinatal period are for spontaneous pre-term births and congenital anomalies:
- About one-quarter (22%) of perinatal deaths of babies of Indigenous mothers were due to spontaneous pre-term birth, compared with 14% of babies of non-Indigenous mothers.
- Congenital anomalies accounted for a smaller proportion of perinatal deaths among babies of Indigenous mothers (21%) compared with non-Indigenous mothers (31%)