1.01 Low birthweight

This measure reports on the incidence of low birthweight among live born babies of Indigenous mothers, including birth and maternal characteristics.

Why is it important?

Low birthweight (newborns weighing <2,500 grams) is associated with being born early (pre‑term) or being small for gestational age, which indicates possible growth restriction within the uterus. Low birthweight infants are at a greater risk of dying during their first year of life; are prone to ill‑health in childhood and the development of chronic diseases as adults, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes (Arnold et al. 2015; Hoy & Nicol 2010; Luyckx et al. 2013; OECD 2011; Scott 2014; White et al. 2010; Zhang et al. 2013).

Related measures

Data sources

  • National Perinatal Data Collection
  • National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
  • New Zealand Ministry of Health: Fetal and infant deaths
  • Statistics Canada: Vital statistics-birth database
  • United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centre for Health Statistics Births: final data for national vital statistics reports


  • Arnold L, Hoy W & Wang Z 2015. Low birthweight increases risk of cardiovascular disease hospitalisations in remote Indigenous Australian community—a prospective cohort study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 40:S102–S106.
  • Hoy W & Nicol J 2010. Birthweight and natural deaths in a remote Australian Aboriginal community. Medical Journal of Australia 192:14–19.
  • Luyckx VA, Bertram JF, Brenner BM, Fall C, Hoy WE, Ozanne SE et al. 2013. Effect of fetal and child health on kidney development and long‑term risk of hypertension and kidney disease. The Lancet 382:273–83.
  • OECD 2011. Health at a glance 2011: OECD indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing.
  • Scott J 2014. Chronic disease profiles in one high risk Indigenous community: a comparison of chronic disease profiles after a 10 year follow up and the relationship between birth weight and chronic disease morbidity and mortality. Brisbane: University of Queensland.
  • White A, Wong W, Sureshkumur P & Singh G 2010. The burden of kidney disease in Indigenous children of Australia and New Zealand, epidemiology, antecedent factors and progression to chronic kidney disease. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 46:504–9.
  • Zhang Z, Kris‑Etherton PM & Hartman TJ 2013. Birth weight and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in US children and adolescents: 10 year results from NHANES. Maternal and Child Health Journal 18(6):1423–32.