The Central Goldfields Shire welcomed 115 babies born in the region in 2018, one of the lowest birth rates for the shire in the past five years.
It was a dip compared to the 128 babies born in 2017 and is the third lowest birth rate since 2012, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) — which records birth rates based on the usual place of residence of the mother.
Fertility rates have also dwindled since 2012, with an average of 2.05 babies born per woman in 2018 compared to 2.36 in 2012. It was also lower compared to 2017’s rate of 2.07.
Over the six year-period of records from the ABS, 2012 had the most babies born in a year with 142.
Since then, births have dwindled to around the 111-118 mark.
Maryborough District Health Service (MDHS) director of clinical services Nickola Allan said it’s hard to say why birth rates are slowly dropping but that it’s been a common theme across the region.
“At MDHS rates have been consistent for the past three or four years but we’ve seen a small decline. We’re sitting between that 60-80 births mark at the health service, it just depends on the year,” she said.
“When you look at the total number of births across the shire they’ve also declined, so it’s not as if we’re referring a lot of women away to other hospitals.
“We know that across our catchment the numbers have declined as well, not just within our health service.”
The median age of parents has been increasing across the country with women becoming mothers at an average 31.4 years in 2018 and men becoming fathers at 33.5.
For more on this story see Page 5 of The Advertiser, Friday, January 17