Notes on the data: Mothers and babies

Low birth weight babies, 2012 to 2014


Policy context:  The weight of a baby at delivery (birthweight) is widely accepted as a key indicator of infant health and can be affected by a number of factors, including the age, size, health and nutritional status of the mother, pre-term birth, and tobacco smoking during pregnancy.[1] A baby is defined as having a low birthweight if they are born weighing less than 2,500 grams. Low birthweight is generally associated with poorer health outcomes, including increased risk of illness and death, longer periods of hospitalisation after birth, and increased risk of developing significant disabilities.[2] The country of birth of the mother may also be an important risk factor for outcomes such as low birthweight and perinatal mortality.[3]


  1. Laws PJ, Grayson N, Sullivan EA. Australia's mothers and babies, 2004. (AIHW Cat. no. PER 34). Sydney: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2006.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). A picture of Australia’s children, 2012. Canberra: AIHW, 2012.
  3. Li Z, McNally L, Hilder L, Sullivan EA. Australia’s mothers and babies 2009. (Perinatal statistics series no. 25, AIHW Cat. no. PER 52). Sydney: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 2011.

Notes:  As these data were collected from each State and Territory health agency, they may exclude people who live in one State/Territory and used a service in another. Hence, the Australian total excludes a small number of births that were recorded in a different State/ Territory as their usual residence. All ACT published figures are of non-Indigenous people. As such the Australian total will only include non-Indigenous people for ACT.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas


Numerator:  Babies (live born) weighing less than 2500 grams at birth (data over 3 years)


Denominator:  All live births (data over 3 years)


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from: the NSW Department of Health; Victorian Perinatal Data Collection; Perinatal Data Collection, Department of Health, Queensland; SA Health; WA Department of Health; the Tasmanian Perinatal Database; NT Department of Health and Families and Health Directorate, ACT Government.


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