Birthweight (PI01 and PI02)

Indicators related to birthweight in the national Key Performance Indicators (nKPI) collection are:

  • the proportion of Indigenous babies born within the previous 12 months whose birthweight was recorded
  • the proportion of Indigenous babies born within the previous 12 months whose birthweight result was low, normal or high.

There have been changes to the specifications of these indicators over time. See Technical notes for more information.

Why is birthweight important

Birthweight is a key indicator of a baby’s immediate health and a determinant of their future health. Low birthweight babies (less than 2,500 grams), for example, are more likely to die in infancy or to be at increased risk of illness in infancy. Measuring birthweight allows infants to be given early and suitable intervention, which can mitigate adverse outcomes.

The targets in the refreshed National Agreement on Closing the Gapinclude several aimed at children, including a target to increase the proportion of Indigenous babies with a healthy birthweight to 91% by 2031. The majority of babies born to Indigenous mothers have a normal birthweight, however, they are less likely to do so than babies born to non-Indigenous mothers (AIHW 2020, 2021). There has been little change in this in recent years.

Birthweight recorded (PI01)

This indicator is the proportion of Indigenous babies born within the previous 12 months whose birthweight was recorded.

At June 2021, 79% of Indigenous babies born in the previous 12 months had their birthweight recorded.

Recording of birthweight was highest in:

  • South Australia (86%)
  • Major cities and Inner regional areas (both 88%)
  • organisations other than Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (non-ACCHOs) (85%).

Birthweight recorded, by either state/territory, remoteness or organisation type, reporting period

This Tableau visualisation shows the percentage of Indigenous babies born in the last year whose birthweight was recorded for either:

  • state/territory (NSW/ACT, Vic, Qld, WA, SA, Tas, NT, Australia)
  • remoteness area (Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote, Very remote, Australia)
  • organisation type (ACCHO, non-ACCHO, Total).

Reporting periods of either June 2017, December 2017, June 2018, December 2018, June 2019, December 2019, June 2020, December 2020, or June 2021 can be selected.

Data supporting this visualisation are available in Excel supplementary data tables at Archived content.

Birthweight result (PI02)

This indicator is the proportion of Indigenous babies born within the previous 12 months whose birthweight result was low, normal or high.

At June 2021, 86% of Indigenous babies born in the previous year had a normal birthweight.

Having a normal birthweight was highest in:

  • Victoria/Tasmania (combined) (90%)
  • Major cities (88%)
  • organisations other than Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (non-ACCHOs) (88%).

Birthweight result, by either state/territory, remoteness or organisation type, reporting period

This Tableau visualisation shows the percentage of Indigenous babies born in the last year by birthweight result (select for low, normal, or high) for either:

  • state/territory (NSW/ACT, Vic, Qld, WA, SA, Tas, NT, Australia)
  • remoteness area (Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional, Remote, Very remote, Australia)
  • organisation type (ACCHO, non-ACCHO, Total).

Reporting periods of either June 2017, December 2017, June 2018, December 2018, June 2019, December 2019, June 2020, December 2020, or June 2021 can be selected.

Data supporting this visualisation are available in Excel supplementary data tables at Archived content.

References

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2020) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework: birthweight, Canberra: AIHW.

AIHW (2021) Australia’s mothers and babies—data visualisations, Cat. no. PER 101, Canberra: AIHW.