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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2000 Jun;24(3):316-9.

Trends in birth rates for teenagers in Queensland, 1988 to 1997: an analysis by economic disadvantage and geographic remoteness.

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Health Information Centre, Queensland Health, Brisbane.



To investigate trends in the birth rate for teenagers in Queensland, stratified by geographic remoteness and economic disadvantage.


This was an analysis of routine data for the period 1988 to 1997. The number of births were obtained from the Queensland Perinatal Data Collection. Population data (the denominators for the rates) were obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Economic disadvantage was based on place of usual residence of the mother. Because of differences in physical, social and psychological development, the data were analysed in three age groups: 13 to 14 years, 15 to 17 years and 18 to 19 years.


Birth rates to teenagers who live in disadvantaged areas were 2 to 4 times higher than the rates for all of Queensland and 10 to 20 times higher than the rates in affluent areas. The trend analysis showed that the rates are decreasing in urban-affluent areas (about 2.5% per year), while they have remained stable, but extremely high in disadvantaged-remote areas, and are increasing (about 5% per year) in disadvantaged-urban areas.


The relatively low and stable rates for all of Queensland have hidden marked variations in the trends for areas defined according to economic disadvantage and remoteness. The rates were especially high and showed no improvement over time in remote disadvantaged areas, which have a large indigenous population.


In some areas of Queensland births to teenagers is a pressing problem, especially because it can perpetuate a cycle of limited educational opportunities, social isolation and reliance on welfare.

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