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Keywords:

  • Aboriginal;
  • Australia;
  • identification of infants;
  • maternity service;
  • urban health service

Aim:  This study explored the accuracy of identification of Aboriginal infants at an urban hospital.

Methods:  Data on the Aboriginal status of all infants who were delivered at the hospital to mothers who resided in the surrounding Local Government Area during 2002 were extracted from the Obstetrics Data Package (ODP). These data were supplemented with local health worker knowledge about the Aboriginal status of infants and compared with NSW Birth Register data held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Results:  There were 1739 deliveries at the hospital to mothers from the Local Government Area. Our study showed that 71.4% (n = 90) of Aboriginal and 77.5% (n = 1649) of non-Aboriginal infants identified through ODP were included in the Birth Register. The proportion of Aboriginal infants identified through the ODP was 5.2% and the Birth Register was 5.6%. The 90 Aboriginal infants included 38 with an Aboriginal mother, 34 with an Aboriginal father, and 18 with two Aboriginal parents.

Conclusions:  This was the first use of these data to examine the accuracy of identification of Aboriginal infants born at this facility. The study highlighted the importance of systematically seeking information on the Aboriginal status of both parents by antenatal services; of providing opportunities for timely feedback on the data quality to maternity service providers; and ensuring that the data are used to inform development of culturally appropriate services. As a result of this study, services have implemented strategies to routinely identify infants with an Aboriginal father as well as those with an Aboriginal mother.