Our mothers and children are the foundation of our future. It is our responsibility to ensure that we provide them with the best possible start in life. It is becoming increasingly clear that many diseases and problems, that we once thought to be caused at birth or in early childhood, actually have their origins during foetal life.
Our knowledge of foetal life is limited. The more we uncover the more we realise how little we know. The more we learn the better we will be able to deal with the problems that can occur during pregnancy and childhood.
Western Sydney is a great base for pregnancy and childhood research. Nepean Hospital is one of the largest maternity units in Australia. We have a very stable population where generation after generation continue to reside in the area. This gives a unique opportunity for long-term epidemiological studies and makes monitoring of research far easier.
The people of Western Sydney will benefit in many ways from research being carried out in the area. Research opportunities will help attract the best clinicians and academics into the area. It will also encourage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to consider investing in the area. Licensing discoveries will open up national and international markets. Most importantly we will be building a foundation for our future.
Statistics – The Scope of the Problem
In 2006 there were 92,781 babies born in NSW. Of these births 3.8% were of teenage mothers and 21.6% were of mothers greater than 35 years of age.
The Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) covering the Nepean, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Springwood, Blacktown, Westmead and Auburn areas has nearly 13,000 deliveries every year.
Some statistics to ponder are:
- The caesarean section rate has increased over the last five years to 28.8%
- The rate of low birth weight (< 2500g) is 6.4%
- The rate of preterm delivery (< 37 weeks gestation) is 7.4%
- The perinatal mortality rate is 9.6 per thousand
- Every year in NSW there are > 5,900 babies of low birth weight
- Every year in Sydney West Area Health Service there are 1,051 babies of low birth weight
- Every year in NSW there are 6,865 preterm babies
- Every year in Sydney West Area Health Service there are > 350 preterm babies
- Every year in NSW there are 821 stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
- Every year approximately 14 mothers die from pregnancy related problems
- Just over 10.8% of babies are admitted to neonatal intensive care units in NSW
A baby’s chance of survival at 22 weeks is just over 10%. This increases to 95% by 32 weeks gestation. It is through research that our knowledge of foetal life can grow and why the work of OZWAC plays a vital role in helping to build the healty pitter-patter of little feet.
1. New South Wales Mothers and Babies 2006, NSW Department of Health
2. Report of the Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network 2006, ANZNN
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c/o Sydney Medical School Nepean
Sydney Medical School Nepean
Nepean Clinical School Building Level 3
62 Derby Street KINGSWOOD NSW 2747