Australian women are changing the age they commit to family.
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A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows the rate of women aged between 15-44 giving birth is higher than a decade ago.
The average age of all women who gave birth was 30.1 years in 2013, compared with 29.5 in 2003.
The average age of first time mothers also increased, from 27.8 years in 2003 to 28.6 in 2013.
According to the report almost 305,000 women gave birth to over 309,000 babies in 2013, with 97% of mothers delivering in hospitals.
‘The proportion of mothers aged 35 years and older who gave birth in 2013 was 22%, compared with 19% in 2003. Conversely, the proportion of mothers aged less than 24 years decreased from 19% to 17%,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.
The report noted, mothers older than 40 years were around 3 times as likely to deliver by caesarean section as teenage mothers (51% and 18%).
The report also shows that fewer women are smoking during pregnancy-12% in 2013, down from 15% in 2009.
‘Tobacco smoking during pregnancy is the most common preventable risk factor for pregnancy complications, and is associated with poorer perinatal outcomes including low birthweight, pre-term birth and perinatal death,’ Dr Al-Yaman said.
Smoking was more common among teenage mothers, mothers living in Very remote areas, mothers living in the lowest SES areas, and Indigenous mothers.
‘Some positive changes were seen in smoking behaviour during the antenatal period, with around one-fifth (22%) of women who smoked quitting in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.’
Interestingly enough – Baby boys slightly outnumber baby girls, with more male (51%) than female (49%). The sex ratio, defined as the number of male live born babies per 100 female live born babies, was 106.0.
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