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Legislating for commercial surrogacy would enable Australia to overcome concerns about poorly regulated clinics overseas, such as this one in Thailand. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

Commercial surrogacy in Australia: rethinking notions of ‘natural’

Often emphasised in discussions about children’s best interests is the idea that certain ways of having and raising children are “natural”. For example, this word appears frequently in reference to how…
Inuit women carrying their kids in traditional hooded parkas. Indigenous midwifery programs have expanded across Canada and are linked to excellent health outcomes. Spencer/Flickr

Birthing on Country could deliver healthier babies and communities

Tony Abbott spent most of 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”. In the final of our Abbott in…
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. 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. 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. 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. 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…
Women who were randomised to receive midwife-led continuity models of care were less likely to experience preterm birth, the Cochrane review found. feministjulie

One-on-one midwife care linked to lower risk of premature birth

Women who have a midwife as their main carer throughout pregnancy and birth are around 23% less likely to have a premature…
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…
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. 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…

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