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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework - Summary report 2023

Healthy birthweight

Having a healthy weight at birth provides children with a good start in life, while low birthweight infants are prone to ill-health in childhood and to chronic disease as adults (AIHW 2011).

In 2019, almost 9 in 10 (89.5%) Indigenous babies were born with a healthy birthweight. Over the period 2013 to 2019 the average birthweight among Indigenous babies has remained consistent (3,256 grams in 2013 and 3,265 grams in 2019). The proportion of Indigenous babies born with a healthy birthweight decreased with remoteness area from 91% in Major cities to 86% in Very remote Australia (Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3: Average birthweight babies (2013–2019) and proportion of babies born with a low birthweight by remoteness (2019)

Average birthweight babies over timebabies born with a low birthweight by remoteness

Source: Measure 1.01, Table D1.01.5 and D1.01.22 – AIHW analysis of the National Perinatal Data Collection.

Poor antenatal care and smoking during pregnancy are risk factors for low birthweight. Antenatal care is the professional health care provided to mothers during pregnancy, to ensure the best health outcomes for both mother and baby.

In 2019, Indigenous babies whose mothers attended antenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy (14 weeks) were less likely to have a low birthweight compared with those who whose mother attended after the first trimester/did not attend (8.1% compared with 11.1%).

Over the period from 2009 to 2019, the proportion of Indigenous mothers who smoked during pregnancy decreased by 8 percentage points (from 52% to 44%). In 2019, 13.9% of Indigenous babies born to a mother who smoked had a low birthweight, compared with 5.7% born to a mother who did not smoke.

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