More than one in 10 Illawarra and Shoalhaven mothers continue to smoke at some time during pregnancy according to a new report.
The NSW report on Mothers and Babies 2017, revealed that 12 per cent of mothers who gave birth in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District last year reported smoking during pregnancy.
That compares to the state average of 8.8 per cent of mothers who admitted smoking, however the statistics varied from 1.7 per cent in the Northern Sydney LHD to 26.8 per cent in the Far West LHD.
The 20th annual report on mothers and babies in NSW also shed light on the age of new mums in the region.
Just under three per cent were teen mums (aged 12 to 19); around one third were aged 30 to 34 and just over three per cent were aged 40-plus.
And while there was a slight decline in the birth rate statewide over the past five years, the Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD bucked the trend. Locally, the number of births rose from 4398 in 2013 to 4475 in 2017 – an overall increase of 1.7 per cent.
The majority of the region’s mums (88 per cent) came from English-speaking backgrounds; 2.7 per cent were born in the Middle East or Africa; 4.9 per cent were from Asian countries and 1.2 per cent from Southern Europe.
The new report also provided an insight into where – and how – Illawarra and Shoalhaven women gave birth in 2017.
The vast majority of mothers (95.6 per cent) chose to give birth in a hospital birthing suite, compared to 2.1 per cent who planned a birth centre birth and 0.2 per cent who planned a home birth.
Fifty-five per cent of the region’s births were normal vaginal births in 2017; 11.2 per cent were instrumental and 33.5 per cent were by caesarean section.
Meanwhile nearly 50 per cent of birthing women opted for an epidural last year; a similar percentage used nitrous oxide (gas) and one in 10 opted for narcotics.
Just over three-quarters of babies were reported to be fully breastfed on discharge from the local health district’s hospitals, while 13.4 per cent were receiving formula only and 7.7 per cent were being partially breastfed.
The perinatal mortality rate was relatively low in this region – 6.2 per 1000 births, which was below the state average of 8.4 per 1000 births.