Australia’s mothers and babies 2006 is the 16th annual report on pregnancy and childbirth in Australia. The report provides national information on women who gave birth in 2006 and the characteristics and outcomes of their babies. The report is based primarily on the National Perinatal Data Collection. In 2006, 277,436 women gave birth to 282,169 babies in Australia. This included 280,078 live births and 2,091 fetal deaths. The increase in births continued, with 9,750 more births (3.6%) than reported in 2005.


Of women who gave birth in 2006:

  • their age at the time of birth has increased
    • the average age was 29.8 years, compared with 28.7 years in 1997
    • 21.4% were aged 35 years or older, up from 15.0% in 1997
    • more had deferred starting a family, with 14.0% of first births being to women aged 35 years or older, compared with 8.3% in 1997
  • 10,183 were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, making up 3.7% of all mothers
  • 41.6% gave birth for the first time, with an average age of 28.2 years
  • 17.3% reported smoking at all during pregnancy, showing no real change over the previous four years
  • 1.7% had a multiple pregnancy, compared with 1.4% in 1997
  • 25.1% had their labours induced, the most commonly reported reason being prolonged pregnancy
  • 58.1% 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%
  • 30.8% gave birth by caesarean section, compared with 20.3% in 1997
  • 83.5% of those who had previously had a caesarean section had a further caesarean section in 2006
  • 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 2006:

  • 8.2% were preterm (less than 37 weeks gestation), compared with 7.3% in 1997
  • 6.4% of liveborn babies were of low birthweight (less than 2,500 grams)
  • 14.9% of liveborn babies were admitted to a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit
  • the death rate prior to birth was 7.4 per 1,000 births and the death rate up to 28 days after birth was 3.0 per 1,000 live births, giving a total perinatal death rate of 10.3 per 1,000 births. The most common cause of perinatal death was congenital abnormality.