Ensuring early intervention and preventative care programs focus on improving outcomes for priority maternal and child populations is a key recommendation in the latest maternity and childhood data report.
Produced by the independent Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity (CCOPMM), the Victoria’s Mothers, Babies and Children 2020 reporting suite contains comprehensive data on birth outcomes, and the health of mothers, newborns and children.
The report also said further research is needed to understand the direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, babies and children in Victoria. The findings of this research can be used to inform system changes that need to be made to meet their ongoing needs and further inform care provision and priorities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and as we transition to post pandemic care.
The report found that in 2020:
- caesarean rates continued to increase (38.4 per cent, up from 37.2 per cent in 2019)
- more women smoked (8.0 per cent at any time during pregnancy, compared to 7.7 per cent in 2019)
- Aboriginal women were more likely to smoke during pregnancy than non-Aboriginal women (41.3 per cent compared with 7.5 per cent respectively), a slight improvement since the previous year
- smoking was related to a higher rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths (10.1 perinatal deaths per 1000 births for women who smoked at any time during pregnancy, compared to 8.8 per 1000 for women who did not)
- Victoria’s child and adolescent mortality rate are low; however, there are deaths that can be prevented and children who have been known to child protection are over-represented in these deaths
- the leading causes of the 42 deaths in adolescents aged 15 to 17 years were intentional self-harm including suicide (33.3 per cent), motor vehicle accident (11.9 per cent) and other acquired disease (11.9 per cent).
“The pandemic has compounded existing social and health challenges in our health care system and community, and we have seen that play out with increased stress, anxiety and uncertainty,” CCOPMM Chair Adjunct Professor Tanya Farrell said.
“To understand and address these inequities, we need a system-focused approach. This involves leveraging the work of existing maternal, child and adolescent health partnerships and advisory groups across the system to guide and inform our approach for at-risk women, children and families.
“Ensuring our most vulnerable populations have access to care that is safe and of high quality must be our highest priority.”