Improving nutrition and birth outcomes for women and babies in the Aboriginal Family Birthing Program

In response to clear indications from our Aboriginal Research Partnership that improving women’s and children’s nutrition was a high community priority, we developed a proposal for a NHMRC Targeted Call on Research for Preventing Obesity in 18-24 year olds. We were recently awarded $975,882 from NHMRC to conduct this five year study.

Investigators include:

Associate Professor Philippa Middleton (HMBC, SAHMRI)

Deanna Stuart-Butler (Women’s and Children’s Health Network)

Jackie Ah Kit (Women’s and Children’s Health Network)

Professor Stephanie Brown (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Dr Alice Rumbold (The University of Adelaide)

Professor Maria Makrides (HMBC, SAHMRI)

Associate Professor Megan Warin (The University of Adelaide)

Professor Alex Brown (WARU, SAHMRI)

Dr Fiona Mensah (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Janiene Deverix (Women’s and Children’s Health Network)


Fifty percent of Aboriginal women in SA give birth before they are 25 years old, compared with 20% of other SA women. Many young Aboriginal women will already be overweight (37%: 15-17 year olds and 59%: 18-24 year olds compared with 24% and 31% respectively in non-Aboriginal female peers). In the face of multiple competing issues, few antenatal programs have included the essential nutritional support required to address overweight/obesity in pregnancy.

The study: 

Women will be offered a novel package of culturally appropriate and intensive nutrition strategies, embedded in the SA Aboriginal Family Birthing Program, a model highly accepted by Aboriginal women. In consultation with community members, we will develop individual, group and phone-based health literacy activities and mother and baby bundles (including healthy foods - such as fruit and vegetables - and personal care, baby care and breastfeeding support items). The activities and bundles will be offered to urban and regional women, birthing in Adelaide at key times during the pregnancy and postnatally by specially trained Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Care Workers, who work in partnership with midwives and other clinicians. We will evaluate whether through Aboriginal women caring for Aboriginal women, young women will become engaged and stay connected during the important life stages of pregnancy and caring for their baby. We will use mixed methods including consultation with pregnant women to assess feasibility and acceptance, then proceed to full implementation and evaluation to realise sustained improvements in lifestyle and health outcomes.

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+61 8 8128 4000
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North Terrace Adelaide 5000 South Australia
Postal Address
PO BOX 11060 Adelaide 5001 South Australia
Key Partners
SAHMRI is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna Nation.

The SAHMRI community acknowledges and respects the traditional owners, the family clans who are the Kaurna Nation from the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia. We acknowledge the clans of the Kaurna Nation and the sacred knowledge they hold for their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna Nation, their ancestors and the descendants of these living family clans today.