The urban and rural divide for women giving birth in NSW, 1990–1997
Article first published online: 13 MAY 2008
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 24, Issue 3, pages 291–297, June 2000
How to Cite
Roberts, C. L. and Algert, C. S. (2000), The urban and rural divide for women giving birth in NSW, 1990–1997. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 24: 291–297. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842X.2000.tb01571.x
- Issue published online: 13 MAY 2008
- Article first published online: 13 MAY 2008
- November 1999, revised requested December 1999, accepted March 2000
OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in the pregnancy profile and outcomes of urban and rural women.
METHODS: Data were obtained from the NSW Midwives Data Collection on births in NSW, 1990–1997. Associations between place of residence (urban/rural) and maternal factors and pregnancy outcomes were examined, including changes over time.
RESULTS: From 1990 to 1997 there were 685,631 confinements in NSW and these mothers resided as follows: 76% metropolitan, 5% large rural centres, 8% small rural centres, 11% other rural areas and 1% remote areas. Rural mothers were more likely to be teenagers, multiparous, without a married or de facto partner, public patients and smokers. Births in rural areas declined, particularly among women aged 20–34 years. Infants born to mothers in remote communities were at increased odds of stillbirth and tow Apgar scores (all women) and small–for–gestational–age (SGA) (Indigenous women only).
CONCLUSIONS: The profile of pregnant women in rural NSW is different from their urban counterparts and is consistent with relative socioeconomic disadvantage and possibly suboptimal maternity services in some areas. While increased risk of SGA is associated with environmental factors such as smoking and nutrition, the reasons for increased risk of stillbirth are unclear. Although there does not appear to be an increased risk of preterm birth for rural women this may be masked by transfer of high–risk pregnancies interstate.
IMPLICATIONS: Maternity services need to be available and accessible to all rural women with targeting of interventions known to reduce low birthweight and perinatal death.