Source: The Mercury, Friday, 16 June 1995, p. 11


State tops baby health report

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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