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Abstract

Objective: The Strong Women Strong Babies Strong Culture Program had specific goals to increase infant birthweights by earlier attendance for antenatal care and improved maternal weight status. Starting in August 1993, Aboriginal women in three pilot communities worked with pregnant women in a program that emphasised both traditional practices and Western medicine.

Method: Two sources of data were used to examine different aspects of program effects.

Results: Data from the NT Midwives Collection shows that the mean birthweight of infants of Aboriginal women increased by 171 g between 1990/91 and 1994/95 in the pilot communities and by 92 g in the surrounding three rural regions. Data extracted from clinic records in the pilot communities found that changes in maternal weight were associated with change in birthweight over time.

Conclusion: Changes in birthweight coincide with the commencement of the program and are larger than the secular trend in surrounding communities.

Implications: Ongoing evaluation of the expanded program will help to determine the extent to which the change in birthweight can be attributed to the program and whether the effects can be replicated.