One in ten mothers in Australia having their first baby were aged 35 years or more, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The AIHW's Australia's Mothers and Babies 2000 report shows that the average age of all mothers is 29.0 years, up from 27.9 years in 1991, and the average age of first-time mothers is also increasing (27.3 years, up from 25.8 years in 1991).
Dr Elizabeth Sullivan, Head of the AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit at the University of New South Wales, said that 'the ACT and Victoria have clearly the greatest proportions of mothers aged 35 and over, with the Northern Territory and Tasmania having clearly the lowest'.
While maternal age is rising, the number of teenage births has hit an all-time low. The number of teenage mothers as a proportion of all women in the population is less than one-third of what it was 30 years ago.
There were approximately 12,700 teenage mothers or 1 in every 20 mothers who gave birth in Australia in 2000.
Indigenous mothers were more likely to have babies at a younger age, with nearly 1 in 4 Indigenous mothers being teenagers.
Dr Sullivan said that maternal age is 'an important risk factor for perinatal outcome, with adverse outcomes more likely to occur in younger and older mothers'.
Australia's Mothers and Babies 2000 presents data collected from 253,053 confinements of mothers notified to State and Territory perinatal data collections in that year. Other findings include:
30 May 2003
Further information: Dr Elizabeth Sullivan, NPSU, tel. (02) 9382 1014
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032
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