Admission to a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit

Babies are admitted to a special care nursery (SCN) or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) if they require more specialised medical care and treatment than is available on the postnatal ward. Data are limited to liveborn babies who were born in hospital and discharged home and may not include babies who were transferred between hospitals and then admitted to an SCN or NICU. Data exclude New South Wales and Western Australia.

Almost 1 in 5 (17%) babies required admission to SCN or NICU. Babies were more likely to require admission if they were born pre-term (77%), First Nations (25%), of low birthweight (76%) or born as a twin (64%).

Figure 1 presents data on the admission to SCN or NICU status of liveborn babies, by selected maternal and baby characteristics, for 2021. Select the trend button to see how data has changed over an 11-year period (where available).

Figure 1: Proportion of liveborn babies, by admission to SCN/NICU and selected topic

Bar chart shows admission to SCN/NICU by selected topics and a line graph shows topic trends between 2011 and 2021.

Mothers were more likely to have a baby admitted to SCN or NICU if they were aged under 20 (24%), or 40 or older (19%), were First Nations (26%), smoked during pregnancy (25%) or gave birth by caesarean section (23%).

The admission rate was also slightly higher among babies whose mothers lived in the most disadvantaged areas (19%) compared with those whose mothers lived in the least disadvantaged areas (14%).

For more information on admission to SCN or NICU see National Perinatal Data Collection annual update data table 3.19.