Approximately 4,500 Australians are born each year with
significant birth defects, diagnosed at birth or soon afterwards,
according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare (AIHW). This figure corresponds to 1.7% of all
births in Australia.
These defects accounted for almost 1 in 5 perinatal deaths and 1
in 4 infant deaths in Australia in 1996 (perinatal deaths =
stillbirths and deaths in the first four weeks after birth).
Congenital Malformations Australia 1995 and 1996, from
the Institute's National Perinatal Statistics Unit at the
University of New South Wales, provides national data on trends in
incidence and deaths due to birth defects, and on terminations of
pregnancy for malformations.
The report also presents malformation trends by maternal age,
State or Territory of the infant's birth, and for single and
AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit Director Dr Paul
Lancaster said that the reported number of pregnancies terminated
in Australia because of fetal defects had decreased from 722 in
1994 to 527 in 1996.
He also said that data showed a declining trend in neural tube
defects (spina bifida and anencephalus) during the last few
decades, with slight fluctuations in recent years.
'We need better data to interpret this trend, and to establish
whether policies aimed at preventing spina bifida and anencephalus
have been effective.'
Other findings in Congenital Malformations Australia 1995
and 1996 include:
19 May 1999
Further information: Dr Paul Lancaster, NPSU,
ph. 02 9382 1047, 02 9382 1014 or 02 9427 0112 (ah).For media copies of the report: Mrs Lena Searle,
AIHW, ph. 02 6244 1032.Availability: Check the AIHW for details.
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