Despite persistent disparities, the majority of Indigenous mothers and babies maintain good health.

A recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Human Services (AIHW) has provided insight into the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies. The report revealed that the vast majority of these babies are born healthy, with almost 87% of newborns having a healthy birth weight. This figure remained consistent from 2005 to 2020, just below the national average of 92%. Additionally, 87% of Indigenous babies are born at full term, compared to 91% nationally. This is the first report in over 15 years to specifically focus on Indigenous mothers and babies.

While the report highlights the overall good health of Indigenous babies, there are still disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. The report identifies areas that require more attention, such as high rates of pre-existing diabetes and hypertension. However, some of the other indicators that the report captures have improved over the past 15 years. For instance, more Indigenous mothers are receiving antenatal care earlier, with 58% receiving care in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy in 2020. This is a significant increase from 39% in 2012.

Smoking during pregnancy among Indigenous mothers has declined, with the percentage decreasing from 51% in 2005 to 43% in 2020. The number of mothers under the age of 20 is also decreasing, which could lead to a reduction in complications. The proportion of Indigenous mothers under the age of 20 has halved, from 22% in 2005 to 11% in 2020.

The report shows that in 2012, 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers lived in the most disadvantaged areas. This figure has dropped to 44% in 2020. Furthermore, the report reveals that Indigenous mothers living in very remote and socio-economically disadvantaged areas have poor access to antenatal care and overall poor health.

While AIHW cannot comment on policies that may have improved (or failed to improve) any of these indicators, the report stresses the importance of making this information available to policy-makers and decision-makers. This way, they can focus their attention on where more support is needed. In conclusion, the report offers valuable insights into the health of Indigenous mothers and babies, and highlights areas that require more attention.

Leave a Reply