Notes on the data: Mothers and babies

Low birthweight babies, 2017 to 2019


Policy context:  The weight of a baby at delivery (birthweight) is widely accepted as a key indicator of infant health and can be affected by a number of factors, including the age, size, health and nutritional status of the mother, pre-term birth, and tobacco smoking during pregnancy [1]. A baby is defined as having a low birthweight if they are born weighing less than 2,500 grams. Low birthweight is generally associated with poorer health outcomes, including increased risk of illness and death, longer periods of hospitalisation after birth, and increased risk of developing significant disabilities [2]. The country of birth of the mother may also be an important risk factor for outcomes such as low birthweight and perinatal mortality [3].


  1. Laws PJ, Grayson N, Sullivan EA. Australia's mothers and babies, 2004. (AIHW Cat. no. PER 34). Sydney: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2006.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). A picture of Australia’s children, 2012. Canberra: AIHW, 2012.
  3. Li Z, McNally L, Hilder L, Sullivan EA. Australia’s mothers and babies 2009. (Perinatal statistics series no. 25, AIHW Cat. no. PER 52). Sydney: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2011.

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.


Geography:  Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


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


Denominator:  Total births (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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