Disadvantaged women continue to experience poorer outcomes through pregnancy and birth amid broader improvements, the latest maternity and childhood data report reveals.
Produced by the independent Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity (CCOPMM), the Victoria’s Mothers, Babies and Children 2018 report contains comprehensive data on birth outcomes, and the health of mothers, newborns and children.
The 2018 report found:
- more women are getting vaccinated for the flu (53.7 per cent in 2017 to 67.1 per cent in 2018) and whooping cough (pertussis, 77.5 per cent in 2017 to 81.8 per cent in 2018)
- Aboriginal women were less likely to have received the whooping cough and/or flu vaccination
- fewer women smoked (8.4 per cent of mothers smoked in the first half of pregnancy and 5.1 per cent smoked in the second half of pregnancy in 2017 which reduced to 7.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively in 2018)
- Aboriginal women were more likely to smoke compared with non-Aboriginal women (40.2 per cent compared with 7.50 per cent respectively)
“Unfortunately, we are still seeing vulnerability as a consistent theme leading to poorer health outcomes – factors such as household income, education, locality, mental health, cultural background or experience or exposure to family violence” CCOPMM Chair Adjunct Professor Tanya Farrell said.
“For instance, babies born to the most socioeconomically disadvantaged women were more likely to be underweight and be born early. For mothers who have had a baby in the last year, suicide is the most common cause of death.”
“As clinicians and a health system, we must improve how we recognise and respond to women, babies, children and families who are vulnerable.”
The report also found an increase in women giving birth at home, women being induced and having caesareans. There has also been a reduction in stillbirth from 6.3 per 1,000 births in 2017 to 6.0 per 1,000 births in 2018.
The council has made six recommendations for improvement, available in the report.