Source: The Mercury, Friday, 16 June 1995, p. 11
By MARY ROSE Health Reporter TASMANIA has the lowest rates of many congenital birth defects, a national report shows. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Congenital Mal- formations Australia 1981- 1992, shows Tasmania has lower rates of many defects than other states. But the state adviser for child health services, Allan Carmichael, warned there was no reason to expect the Tasmanian rate of birth de- fects to he different from the national average. The relatively low rate of births, about 6800 a year, in Tasmania could distort the figures, Professor Car- michael said. Also, it was not compul- sory to report the defects listed in the report so it was likely there were problems reporting the conditions in Tasmania, and interstate. It all hinged on how com- plete the reporting was, he said. The variations could lead to the investigation of causes of conditions and ways to prevent them, if it could be ensured the reports were complete, he said. The report showed that from 1991 to 1992: * The reported rates of spina bifida were highest in West- ern Australia (7.1 per 10,000 births) and lowest in the Australian Capital Terri- tory, South Australia and Tasmania (3.8). * The highest reported rates of ventricular septal defects (characterised by heart mur- murs) were in the Northern Territory (25.5) and lowest in Tasmania (6.2). Report authors said the reported rates in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory were well below the national rate of 18.2. * Tasmania (10.5) had the highest rate of cleft lip and Western Australia (5.8) had the lowest rate. * South Australia (3.4) had the highest reported rated of small intestinal atresia/ste- nosis (an abnormality characterised by occlusion or narrowing of the small intes- tine). The lowest rate was in Tasmania, with no cases. * The highest rates of cystic kidney disease were in the Northern Territory (6.4) and the second lowest in Tas- mania (1.9). * The reported rates of obstructive defects of the renal (kidney) pelvis and ureter varied markedly from a high of 11.2 in Victoria to a low of 1.9 in Tasmania. * The rates of congenital hip dislocation were highest in Queensland (45.8) and the lowest in Tasmania (6.2). * South Australia (8.3) had the highest rate of limb reduction defects and Tas- mania the lowest (2.9).
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