South Australia



Associate Professor Rosalie Grivell: Co-Lead
Paula Medway: Co-Lead

Some 20,000 babies are born in South Australia ever year, and approximately 2000 babies are born preterm.

  • Some 20,000 babies are born in South Australia ever year, and approximately 2000 babies are born preterm (before 37 weeks). Preterm birth occurred for 9.5% of all infants born and 7% of babies born alive, however, our Indigenous families suffered a higher rate of preterm birth, with 15.0% of South Australian Aboriginal babies born too soon. Almost three quarters (75%) of multiple pregnancies (i.e. twins or triplets) are born preterm.
    • Middleton P, Gomersall JC, Gould JF, Shepherd E, Olsen SF, Makrides M. N-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD003402.
    • Makrides M, Best K, Yelland L et al 2019 N-3 Supplementation in Pregnancy and the Incidence of Preterm Birth (New England Journal of Medicine, in press)
    • Associate Professor Rosalie Grivell (Co-Lead)
    • Ms Paula Medway (Co-Lead and National Midwifery Representative)
    • Dr Philippa Middleton (National Perinatal Epidemiology Representative)
  • The Whole Nine Months SA is developing key strategies to try and reduce the number of families affected by preterm birth in our state. To begin with, we are updating the South Australian Perinatal Practice Guidelines regarding Preterm Labour and Birth as well as Induction of Labour.

    These will help to ensure our Obstetricians, GP Obstetricians and midwives are thinking about how each of their pregnant patients may be at risk of preterm birth and how they can use the most up to date evidence to help minimise that risk, safely. Watch this space for updates on an education event for antenatal care providers and researchers later in 2019.

    Smoking remains an important risk factor for preterm birth and we are clearly not doing enough to help mums overcome their dependence, both for their health and that of their babies. We are looking at ways of increasing support to mums early in their pregnancies to help them cut down or quit smoking to reduce their risk of having a preterm birth.

    At the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute we are looking at the role of omega-3 (fish oil) in preventing preterm birth. We know that women with low levels of omega-3 in early pregnancy are at higher risk of having a preterm birth and that overall, taking fish oil in pregnancy seems to reduce the risk of preterm birth, but it is not necessarily the case that everyone needs to take fish oil in pregnancy. We are therefore working on ways to decide who will benefit from supplementing with fish oil in pregnancy.

    An important strategy in Closing the Gap for our Indigenous population is ensuring their babies have the best possible start in life; we will therefore be focusing our efforts on Aboriginal women and families through initiatives such as ABFABB (Aboriginal Family Baby Bundles), which aim to provide dietary and lifestyle intervention support to Aboriginal families in and around pregnancy to benefit not only that child, but the whole community. This is in addition to local health network based Aboriginal Family Birthing Programs.