By Alan (ed) Gray
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Additional info for A Matter of life and death: Contemporary aboriginal mortality : proceedings of a workshop of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ... July 1989
The data were then used in two ways. The first was to compare the birthweights and incidence of low birthweight over the 30 year period. All records of children born in the years 1952-53, 1962-63, 1972-73 and 1982-83 have been examined and the birthweights noted. For children born between 1983 and 1988, we also searched the records for the data on their mothers and where possible on their fathers. These data sources give us only the children who attended the clinic. They therefore exclude infants who were stillborn or who died before attending the clinic.
However, there is a threshold limiting the benefits from food supplements. If the mother is above a relatively low plane of nutrition, food supplements do not increase the birthweight of the child (Prentice et a1 1983). It is most unlikely that extra food given to Aboriginal mothers during pregnancy would increase the birthweights of their children. Smoking is common among Aboriginal women, including pregnant women. Overseas studies have shown that smoking can reduce birthweights by 100 to 200 gm depending on the number of cigarettes smoked and the other circumstances of the study.
There is a dilemma here. Improved obstetric services in each of the remote settlements might allow women with low-risk pregnancies to be delivered near home, but there could be problems of recruiting and retaining suitably trained staff in remote areas and also of the evacuation of women with an unexpected emergency during labour. At the level of secondary prevention, high-risk women and their families can be identified in their home situation. Measures to reduce risk could be strengthened. Mothers who smoke and drink heavily during pregnancy or who have infectious diseases that directly affect the infant could be counselled and treated effectively in their own environment.
A Matter of life and death: Contemporary aboriginal mortality : proceedings of a workshop of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health ... July 1989 by Alan (ed) Gray