Rural and remote prematurity

17 Oct 2022

Whilst most Australians live in or close to cities, 31% of the population live in rural or remote areas. Given the size of Australia this poses a huge problem.

Generally, people who live further away from a city have less access to healthcare, resulting in a lower life expectancy, and more prevalence of disease. Women living in remote areas, who statistically experience poorer health overall, also have a higher chance of preterm birth. In major cities, 8.4% of babies are born prematurely compared with 13.5% of babies born to mothers who reside in very remote areas. 

In Australia, there are 24 Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and 100+ Special Care Nurseries (SCUs), with the majority of these being in metropolitan areas. Babies born sick or prematurely in a remote area need to be transported to the nearest NICU or SCU, possibly hundreds of kilometers away from their home, often using specialised transportation services like NETS or NeoRESQ. This can be a very stressful time for parents, away from their regular support networks.

Running for Premature Babies has provided equipment to many regional hospitals to improve the chance of survival for premature babies at settings closer to the homes of mothers living outside major centres, as well as a specialised ambulance created to return babies to a hospital closer to home once they are well enough.

For more information please see below

The distrubution of maternity services across rural and remote Australia: does it reflect population need?

If you or someone you know have had a premature baby and need support, please see below

Preterm Infants Parents Association

Life's Little Treasures

Miracle Babies Foundation

This information has been reviewed by Neonatologist, Dr John Smyth.

Disclaimer: This information by Running for Premature Babies Foundation is educational and informative in nature and is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. For further information, please Contact Us.

The Running for Premature Babies NeoRESQ Vehicle, affectionately known as R4LPH (Returning All the Little People Home), has been in service since November 2020 to return babies to a hospital closer to home once they are well enough.