NEWS: Nunavut June 22, 2012 - 12:30 pm

More small babies, premature deliveries, fewer C-sections in Nunavut: health institute

Few Nunavut mothers need Caesarean sections to deliver


Young women in Nunavut may find giving birth easier and require less medical intervention during delivery than women in other Canadian provinces and territories.

But Nunavut has the highest rate of babies born under 5.5 pounds or 2,500 grams of any province or territory in Canada, says information released June 21 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Low birth weight is generally a condition associated with smoking, younger mothers, and premature deliveries.

As many as 12 in 100 women in Nunavut give birth to babies born pre-term, or before 39 weeks of gestation.

That’s compared to the Canadian average of fewer than eight in 100 women who give birth to pre-term babies, the CIHI report said.

Genital tract infections, such as sexually transmitted diseases, and factors, such as stress, anxiety and depression, are also known to affect increase the risk of pre-term birth.

The higher proportion of pre-term deliveries and the smaller size of babies may explain why the Canadian Institute for Health Information also found fewer Caesarean sections and less use of epidural anesthetic and other medical interventions among Nunavut women’s deliveries.

Fewer than one in 10 Nunavut women deliver by C-section, a rate that’s more than two times lower than in Newfoundland and Labrador. The rate of epidurals among Nunavut women is 10 times lower than in Quebec.

With the exception of Nunavut, all provinces and territories reported a decrease in hospitalization rates between 1995–1996 and 2010–2011, the Canadian Institute for Health Information also found.

In 2010-11 Nunavut had the highest acute inpatient hospital rate, twice the rate in the rest of Canada, but the shortest stays, only 3.2 days per patient compared to 7.3 nationally.

This figure is likely explained by the transport of the sickest patients from Nunavut to medical centres in the South.