Four key maternal and child health indicators are explored in this latest report – smoking during pregnancy, child and infant mortality, low birthweight babies, and antenatal visits in the first trimester of pregnancy. Indicators are reported nationally, by Primary Health Network (PHN) areas and by smaller local areas.

Australia’s national rates have improved (decreased) over time for infant and young child mortality, and smoking during pregnancy, while relatively good results for the rate of low birthweight babies and antenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy have remained steady.

Nationally, the data revealed that in 2013–2015:

  • The proportion of women who reported smoking during pregnancy was 11%. However, there are substantial differences across Australia. In regional PHN areas 17% of mothers reported smoking at some point during pregnancy, compared with 7.9% in metropolitan PHN areas
  • The infant and young child mortality rate was 4.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. Regional PHN areas reported a rate of 4.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, 1.4 times the rate for metropolitan PHN areas (3.5 per 1,000 live births)
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies was 4.9%, with little difference between regional PHN areas (5.2%) and metropolitan PHN areas (4.7%).
  • More than 6 in 10 (63%) mothers attended at least one antenatal visit in the first trimester of pregnancy.

All measures presented in the report are by PHN area. Local-level data are available for all women and their babies by Statistical Areas Level 3, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies by Statistical Area Level 4 in the downloadable data and on the National overview pages for each of the indicators.