Maternal and neonatal factors influencing premature birth and low birth weight in Australia

J Biosoc Sci. 2003 Apr;35(2):161-74. doi: 10.1017/s0021932003001615.


This study identified the influences of neonatal and maternal factors on premature birth and low birth weight in New South Wales, Australia. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to explore the association of selected neonatal and maternal characteristics with premature birth and low birth weight. The findings of this study showed that premature birth and low birth weight rate significantly varied by infant sex, maternal age, marital status, Aboriginality, parity, maternal smoking behaviour during pregnancy and maternal hypertension. First-born infants, and infants born to mothers aged less than 20 years, or who were single, separated/divorced, Aboriginal or who smoked during the pregnancy, were at increased risk of being premature or of low birth weight. This study also found that risk factors for premature births and low birth weight were similar in both singleton and multiple births. Gestational age was confirmed to be the single most important risk factor for low birth weight. The findings of this study suggest that in order to reduce the incidence of low birth weight and premature births, health improvement strategies should focus on anti-smoking campaigns during pregnancy and other healthcare programmes targeted at the socially disadvantaged populations identified in the study.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Maternal Age*
  • New South Wales
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*