Australia’s mothers and babies 2005 is the 15th annual report on pregnancy and childbirth in Australia. The report is based primarily on the National Perinatal Data Collection.

In 2005, 267,793 women gave birth to 272,419 babies in Australia. There were 15,214 more births (5.9%) than reported in 2004.


Of women who gave birth in 2005:

  • the mean age was 29.8 years, continuing the upward trend in maternal age
  • 9,867 were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, making up 3.7% of all mothers
  • 17.4% reported smoking at all during pregnancy
  • 1.7% had a multiple pregnancy
  • 58.5% had a spontaneous vaginal birth, 0.4% had a vaginal breech birth, while deliveries using forceps accounted for 3.5% and vacuum extractions for 7.2%
  • 30.3% gave birth by caesarean section, compared with 19.5% in 1996
  • who had previously had a caesarean section, 83.2% had a caesarean section in 2005
  • the median length of stay in hospital was 3.0 days, and was longer for women who had a caesarean section (5.0 days).


Of babies born in 2005:

  • 8.1% were preterm (less than 37 weeks gestation)
  • 6.4% of liveborn babies were of low birthweight (less than 2,500 grams)
  • the national sex ratio was 105.5 male live births per 100 female live births
  • 15.5% of liveborn babies were admitted to a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit
  • 6,044 were admitted to level III neonatal intensive care units in Australia and met ANZNN’s high risk criteria, of which 78.0% were preterm
  • the fetal death rate was 7.3 per 1,000 births; the neonatal death rate was 3.2 per 1,000 live births; and the perinatal death rate was 10.5 per 1,000 births.

Socioeconomic status of women who gave birth

  • Women who gave birth in 2005 and were in the least disadvantaged quintile were older and less likely to be Indigenous or smoke during pregnancy, compared with women in the other quintiles.
  • The proportion of women who had induced or no labour, and the proportion who had an instrumental delivery or caesarean section, increased with socioeconomic advantage.
  • The proportion of babies with less favourable outcomes, such as preterm birth and low birthweight, decreased with socioeconomic advantage.