Notes on the data: Aboriginal mothers and babies

Low birthweight Aboriginal babies, 2017 to 2019


Policy context:  A baby’s birthweight is a key indicator of health status. Low birthweight 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 birthweight increases the risk of death and disability in infancy and of serious health problems in childhood and possibly later in life.

In 2019, babies born to Aboriginal women in Australia were 1.8 times as likely to be of low birthweight (11.7%) than were those born to non-Indigenous women (6.4%) [1].


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020. Australia’s children. Available from; last accessed 6 June 2022.

Notes:  Data published previous to 2015 to 2017 were collected from each State and Territory health agency and are likely to have excluded people who live in one State/Territory and used a service in another. This data release uses data, provided to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare by each State and Territory, in which residents of another jurisdiction were generally coded to their correct usual address. This change will affect the time series published for quintiles and Remoteness Areas.

Data for many remote areas, particularly in Western Australia and Northern Territory, should be treated with caution as the quality of the population correspondence provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is rated as ‘Poor’.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Total low birthweight babies: Includes live born babies weighing less than 2,500 grams at birth born to Aboriginal women (data over 3 years)


Denominator:  Total births to Aboriginal women (data over 3 years)


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, on behalf of the States and Territories.


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