About 1 in 4 Australian women will remain childless by the end of their reproductive lives, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Australia's birth rates are lower than they have ever been and national fertility rates are continuing to fall. Australian women now give birth to an average of 1.75 children during their lives compared with 2.9 children in the 1970s.
The replacement level fertility rate (the number of children a woman needs to have to replace both herself and her partner) is 2.06.
Delayed child-bearing, an increase in the number of women having no children, and a decline in the number of women having three or more children have all been associated with lower fertility rates.
Reproductive Health Indicators Australia 2002, written by the AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit at the University of NSW, was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing in response to growing national and global interest and a need for comprehensive framework in reproductive health.
The report presents a snapshot of Australia's reproductive health status, by systematically measuring a set of 44 core reproductive health indicators. It highlights a lack of nationally available information in almost half of the indicators on infertility, family planning, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
The findings show that Australia's reproductive health compares well with other developed countries.
Australia compares well in terms of maternal mortality, proportion of low birthweight babies, teenage fertility rates, access to family planning and the incidence of reproductive tract diseases and cancers.
Other findings in the report include:
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