Maternal Health in Australia

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Fraser Clarke

Australia has released a new report studying maternal health in the country, with more women than ever now opting for Caesarean Sections.

According to figures published in the National Core Maternity Indicators report, the percentage of women giving birth via a CS has risen from 25.3% to 28.5% since 2004, a figure that follows recent international trends.

The number of small babies born after 40 weeks has dropped however, from 2.1% to 1.4%, whilst the number of women seeking antenatal care within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy has risen from 65.9% to 68.6%.

Some of the most in-depth data was in relation to smoking rates during pregnancy, and especially inequalities relating to race and geography.

Smoking whilst pregnant greatly increases the chance of stillbirth, with a third of all deaths in the womb relating to smoking. As well as this it puts the child at a greater risk of a range of other conditions, such as asthma, ADHD and ear infections.

According to the figures, more than 45% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders smoked during pregnancy, compared to the national average of just 10.4%.

Throughout the country the overall smoking rate actually dropped in every territory, however the figures remain incredibly varied.

In New South Wales just 7.8% of women smoked during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, a drop of 2.7% since 2011. In Northern Territory meanwhile the figures dropped by 4.9%, but remained more than double those in NSW at 20.9%.

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