Home | Clinical Practice | Neonatal program helped Aboriginal mums: study

Neonatal program helped Aboriginal mums: study

A maternity program using Aboriginal grandmothers led to greatly improved health outcomes for Indigenous mothers and their babies.

The Aboriginal Maternity Group Practice Program (AMGPP) aimed to provide culturally appropriate care. It employed Aboriginal grandmothers, Aboriginal health officers, and midwives who worked with existing antenatal services in south metropolitan Perth.

Women who attended the program between July 2011 and December 2012 had better outcomes than pregnant Indigenous women in two other groups.

The research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, said the AMGPP babies were less likely to be born pre-term, require resuscitation at birth, or have a hospital-stay of more than five days.

Pre-term births are linked to infant mortality, particularly in Aboriginal women, and to chronic disease throughout life.

"Australian Aboriginal women are at greater risk of complications during pregnancy and labour than non-Indigenous Australian women," said the researchers, Dr Christina Bertilone and Dr Suzanne McEvoy. The reasons include a higher prevalence of medical, life-style and socio-economic risk factors, and lower antenatal care participation rates.

The Aboriginal grandmothers in the program were respected women in the local community with good community networks. They identified pregnant women, assisted with access to services, including transport, provided support including being present at appointments if requested, and advised on cultural and health promotion.

The AMGPP could be adapted to similar settings for improved outcomes for mothers and babies, the authors said.

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