Number of older women giving birth continuing to rise

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The number of older women giving birth is continuing to rise, according to the latest data to be released by the Department of Health on mothers and babies in Western Australia.

Releasing the ‘Western Australia’s Mothers and Babies 2010, 28th Annual Report’ today, Medical Advisor Dr Revle Bangor-Jones said while the proportion of teenage mothers had remained stable over the past 30 years, the number of women giving birth at age 35 or more had steadily increased every year.

Dr Bangor-Jones said just 4.7 per cent of all births in 1980 had been to mothers aged 35 years and over, compared to 21.5 per cent in 2008 and 21 per cent in 2010.

“Other trends to note include the decreasing incidence of tobacco smoking among pregnant women, from 22.6% in 1999 to 12.1% in 2010,” she said.

“In 2010, the number of homebirths increased slightly but the proportion of homebirths did not change and remained low at 0.8 per cent of all births.”

She said the report also published data—for the first time—on how far progressed in the pregnancy a woman was when she first presented for antenatal care.

“Data available since January 2010 show that 39.2 per cent of women began antenatal care in the first 12 weeks of being pregnant,” she said.

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“Other data to be published for the first time include rates of induction for labour, caesarean section and vaginal birth.”

Dr Bangor-Jones said trend data indicated a decreasing perinatal mortality rate over the past 18 years.

“These figures confirm general health trends across the community and provide an important resource for clinicians, managers and researchers on birth events,” she said.

“They also respond to community demand for more information on areas of interest or concern, which is why individual hospital rates of induction of labour, caesarean section and vaginal birth have been included for the first time.

New data on gestation at the first antenatal visit and the average number of cigarettes smoked during pregnancy are also included in the report.”

Source: Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

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Date Created: October 16, 2012