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Aust N Z J Public Health. 1997 Aug;21(5):524-30.

Risk factors for aboriginal low birthweight, intrauterine growth retardation and preterm birth in the Darwin Health Region.

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Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, Casuarina, NT.


Risk factors for Aboriginal low birthweight (< 2500 g), preterm birth (< 37 weeks' gestation) and intrauterine growth retardation (under the tenth percentile of Australian birthweights for gestational age) were examined in 503 live-born singletons recorded as born to an Aboriginal mother and routinely delivered at the Royal Darwin Hospital between January 1987 and March 1990. Infants born to mothers with body mass index less than 18.5 kg/m2 had five times the risk of having low birthweight and 2.5 times the risk of intrauterine growth retardation. Population-attributable risk percentages suggest that 28 per cent of low birthweight and 15 per cent of growth retardation could be attributed to maternal malnutrition. Risk percentages for maternal smoking of more than half a packet of cigarettes a day were 18 per cent for low birthweight and 10 per cent for growth retardation. For growth retardation, 18 per cent could be attributed to a maternal age under 20 years. Risk factors for preterm birth were predominantly obstetric: the population-attributable risk percentage for pregnancy-induced hypertension was 26 per cent and for other obstetric conditions was 16 per cent. For Aboriginal births in the Darwin Health Region, maternal malnutrition and smoking are key elements in the prevention of low birthweight and intrauterine growth retardation. Teenage pregnancy is an important risk for intrauterine growth retardation, and pregnancy-induced hypertension is a risk for preterm birth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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