22 May 2015

Western Australian women receiving better care during pregnancy

More Western Australian women are beginning antenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy, according to a report released today.

Public Health physician Dr Teresa Ballestas said the thirtieth annual report, “Western Australia’s Mothers and Babies, 2012”, provided the most comprehensive snapshot of pregnancy and birth in Western Australia. 

“The proportion of women who began antenatal care in the first trimester increased to 55.4 per cent in 2012 from 48.2 per cent in 2011,” Dr Ballestas said.

“For the first time, this annual snapshot includes information about obesity during pregnancy, the number of antenatal care visits and the Aboriginality of the infant.

“This additional information will allow us to better target our care programs to expectant Mums so that we can continue to provide excellent care in maternal and infant health.”

The number of expectant Western Australian mothers who were obese during their pregnancy (BMI ≥ 30) was 23.1per cent  in 2012, which although higher than the Australian average, was less than the proportion of all Western Australian women of child bearing age.

There was a 5.2 per cent increase in the number of infants born in 2012 from 2011.  The caesarean section rate was 34.6 per cent, which is a slight increase from 2011, and higher than the national average. The rate of caesarean section ranged from between 20.0 and 57.0 per cent among hospitals.

In 2012, 11.6 percent of pregnant Western Australians smoked tobacco, compared to 20.3 percent of Australian women of child bearing age.  Smoking tobacco rates were 23.0 per cent for women born in New Zealand, 32.3 per cent for teenaged women, and 48.2 per cent for Aboriginal women.

The perinatal mortality rate was 8.4 per 1,000 infants born, which is the lowest rate since 2007 and below the national rate of 9.6 per 1,000 infants born.  For infants of Aboriginal mothers, the perinatal mortality rate was 21.1 per cent, which is lower than the previous year. 

The publication is available on the WA Health website.

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