Worrying statistics published today reveal more infants are losing their lives on the North Coast, and more low birthweight babies are being born.
Worrying statistics published today reveal more infants are losing their lives on the North Coast, and more low birthweight babies are being born.

Infant deaths are rising on the North Coast

THE mortality rate of infants and young children is on the rise on the North Coast, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of of Health and Welfare.

The report, Child and maternal health 2013-2015, presents findings on the health of babies and their mothers around Australia.

The national rate of infant and young child mortality rates are on the decline, however this isn't the case on the NSW North Coast, which encompasses the area from Tweed Valley to Port Macquarie.

The rate is measured on the number of deaths among those aged less than 5 years per 1,000 live births.

Between 2013-15, 5% of infants and young children lost their lives on the North Coast, an increase from 4.8% between 2012-14 and 4.5% between 2011-13.

On a national level, the mortality rate stands at 4.1%.

Around 4.3% of infants and young children lost their lives in Coffs Harbour, and a worrying 7.4% in the Kempsey to Nambucca region.

The report also reveals the rate of babies being born with a low birth weight on the North Coast has increased to 5.2% from 4.9% in 2012-14.

In more positive news, fewer North Coast mothers are smoking during pregnancy.

During 2013-2015, the number of deaths among infants and young children aged less than 5 years per 1,000 live births varied across Primary Health Network areas.
During 2013-2015, the number of deaths among infants and young children aged less than 5 years per 1,000 live births varied across Primary Health Network areas. AIHW

AIHW spokesperson Anna O'Mahony said that despite generally positive results nationally, these positive trends are not seen equally across Australia's 31 Primary Health Network areas.

"For example, while nationally there has been a consistent decrease in the proportion of mothers smoking during pregnancy-falling from about 1 in 7 mothers in 2009 to 1 in 10 in 2015-rates in some PHN areas are nearly 18 times as high as in others," she said.

"The other indicators also varied, but to a lesser extent, with rates up to 3 times as high in some PHN areas."

Infant and young child mortality rates 2013-15:

- Nationally: 4.1%

- NSW North Coast: 5% (increase from 4.8 in 2012-14)

Local break down:

- Kempsey-Nambucca: 7.4%

- Coffs Harbour: 4.3%

- Clarence Valley: 4.2%

- Port Macquarie: 5.2%

- Tweed Valley: 5.4%

Percentage of women who gave birth and smoked during pregnancy 2013-15:

- Nationally 11%

- NSW North Coast: 15.4% (decrease from 16.1% in 2012-14)

Local break down:

- Kempsey-Nambucca: 29.6%

- Clarence Valley: 19.5%

- Port Macquarie: 14.3%

- Coffs Harbour: 14.0%

- Tweed Valley: 10.5%

Low birth weight babies 2013-15:

- Nationally: 4.9%

- NSW North Coast: 5.2% (increase from 4.9% in 2012-14)

- Kempsey-Nambucca: 7.6%

- Clarence Valley: 7%

- Coffs Harbour: 5.4%

- Port Macquarie: 5.1%

- Tweed Valley: 4.3%