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Analysis and Comment (13)

If you’re born underweight, like this little baby on the left, it can make a world of difference to your lifelong health. If you’re born underweight, like this little baby on the left, it can make a world of difference to your lifelong health. Menzies Health

Australia’s 7 Up: the revealing study tracking babies to adults

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Australia’s southern grass skink gives birth to live young and a valuable species for understanding placenta evolution. Australia’s southern grass skink gives birth to live young and a valuable species for understanding placenta evolution. Jacquie Herbert

Lizards help us find out which came first: the baby or the egg?

Have you ever wondered why we give birth to live young rather than lay eggs? Scientists have pondered this for a long time and answers have come from an unlikely source: some of Australia’s lizards and…
Babies born in private hospitals are more likely to have a problem following birth and to be readmitted to hospital in their first 28 days. Babies born in private hospitals are more likely to have a problem following birth and to be readmitted to hospital in their first 28 days. Martin LaBar/Flickr

Birth intervention – and harm – more likely in private hospitals

Australia has high rates of medical and surgical intervention (including caesarean section) during birth, especially in private hospitals. While these interventions can be harmful if overused, people working…
Women report that the birth environment is a key factor in how easy or hard it is to give birth. Women report that the birth environment is a key factor in how easy or hard it is to give birth. Image from shutterstock.com

Babies, not burgers: why we need better-designed labour wards

I recently visited a new McDonald’s outlet on the northern fringes of Sydney. What I found inside left me gawping in astonishment: soft lighting, views of nature, a mixture of private and communal spaces…
The process of being born may affect how our brain develops and whether we’re susceptible to brain disorders. The process of being born may affect how our brain develops and whether we’re susceptible to brain disorders. JoséMa Orsini

Giving birth to new insights into brain development and disease

Each one of us is the complex product of nature and nurture, genes and environment. They combine in a myriad of complex ways during embryonic and postnatal development to sculpt our brains and bodies…
Infants born by C-section had twofold higher odds of developing obesity. Infants born by C-section had twofold higher odds of developing obesity. randomplaces/Flick

Are people born by caesarean section more likely to be obese?

A study recently published in the British Medical Journal (project Viva) has found that children born by caesarean section have a higher rate of obesity at age three than children born naturally. At first…
Pregnancies are much less risky than they used to be. Pregnancies are much less risky than they used to be. Malingering

Take the pressure down – pregnancy doesn’t have to be so stressful

Advances in medical science and technology have significantly reduced the risk of serious complications and death during pregnancy and birth. You’d think this would make mums-to-be more relaxed than they…
We might expect dramatic sex ratio fluctuations when a whole population experiences extreme food shortages. We might expect dramatic sex ratio fluctuations when a whole population experiences extreme food shortages. Teeejayy

Little China girls: how history’s worst famine shifted the sex ratio

People often ask me whether natural selection continues to operate on modern humans in industrialised societies, even though technology has liberated so many from hunger and early death. My answer is always…
Home births for high-risk pregnancies and where a registered midwife isn’t present are risky. Home births for high-risk pregnancies and where a registered midwife isn’t present are risky. Deannster

For some women, unassisted home births are worth the risks

We live in a world with many different perspectives on risk. Entire professions now exist to advise us on how to recognise, avoid and manage risk. And the maternity and obstetric professions are no different…
Many extremely premature babies will have lifelong physical and intellectual deficiencies. Many extremely premature babies will have lifelong physical and intellectual deficiencies. kqedquest

Balancing hope and fear for babies born at 24 weeks gestation

Imagine how frightening it must be for a woman to go into labour when she is just over halfway through her pregnancy and her baby has only had 23 or 24 weeks to grow. She and her family are overcome with…
Government restrictions on midwife-led care make it difficult for women to have a home birth. Government restrictions on midwife-led care make it difficult for women to have a home birth. Methyl lives

Comfortable, safe and in control: why women should have the option to give birth at home

Choosing where to give birth – whether in a public hospital, private facility or in the home – is a fundamental human right that should be available to all Australian women. But despite the Commonwealth…
One in three Australian women will give birth by caesarean but many don’t need to. One in three Australian women will give birth by caesarean but many don’t need to. Mike Hanlon

Is caesarean now the ‘normal’ way to give birth, and should we be worried?

There’s no doubt that caesarean sections are an essential procedure that can save the lives of women and babies. But around one in three Australian women will give birth by caesarean section – and that’s…

Research and News (4)

Research Briefs (9)

Weight and age affect childbirth pain

First-time mothers, obese women and those who have longer labours experience greater pain in childbirth than other women…

Flame retardants lower birthweight

Common household flame retardant chemicals have been linked to low infant birth weight. The researchers found that whenever…