Notes on the data: Mothers and babies

Low birth weight babies, 2012 to 2014


Policy context:  A baby’s birth weight is a key indicator of health status. Low birth weight babies are those weighing less than 2500 grams at birth. An infant may be small when it is born for two reasons: it may be born early (premature), or it may be small for its gestational age (intra-uterine growth restriction). Risk factors include socioeconomic disadvantage; maternal size, age and nutritional status; the number of babies previously born; illness, and alcohol, tobacco and drug use during pregnancy; and duration of the pregnancy. Low birth weight increases the risk of death and disability in infancy and of serious health problems in childhood and possibly later in life. Babies born to Aboriginal women in South Australia in 2005 were more than twice as likely to be of low birth weight (19.3%) than were those born to non-Aboriginal women (7.2%) [1].


  1. Maternal, Perinatal and Infant Mortality Committee. Maternal, perinatal and infant mortality in South Australia 2005. Adelaide: South Australian Department of Health; 2006.

Notes:  The data previously published were for non-Indigenous low birth weight babies. The data shown here now include all low birth weight babies.

As these data were collected from each State and Territory health agency, they may exclude people who live in one State/Territory and used a service in another. Hence, the Australian total excludes a small number of births that were recorded in a different State/ Territory as their usual residence. All ACT published figures are of non-Indigenous people. As such the Australian total will only include non-Indigenous people for ACT.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas

Numerator:  Babies (live born) weighing less than 2500 grams at birth (data over 3 years)


Denominator:  All live births (data over 3 years)


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from: the NSW Department of Health; Victorian Perinatal Data Collection; Perinatal Data Collection, Department of Health, Queensland; SA Health; WA Department of Health; the Tasmanian Perinatal Database; NT Department of Health and Families and Health Directorate, ACT Government.


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