2017 Reproductive Health Status Report

Background

The Reproductive Health in Halton Report provides a snapshot of the health and wellbeing of mothers and infants in Halton Region. The purpose of this report is to provide data on trends, emerging issues, and priority populations to inform public health programs, services, and policies that help all women have safe and healthy pregnancies and births. This report also serves to fulfil the surveillance and health status reporting requirement of the Health Department under the Ontario Public Health Standards related to preconception health, healthy pregnancies, reproductive health outcomes, and preparation for parenting.

The social determinants of health, which include the social, political, economic, and environmental conditions where Halton residents live, learn, work, and play, can have an important role in reproductive health and health outcomes. It is important to keep the social determinants of health in mind when interpreting data throughout this report and when planning reproductive health programs and services.

Data sources

This report used a number of different reproductive health data sources, including Vital Statistics, Hospital Discharges, and the Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN). See the full length report for more information on the data sources presented.

Key Findings

Preconception demographics

Halton’s population is aging, and the proportion of females of reproductive age in the population is decreasing. However, because Halton’s population overall is also growing, the number of females of reproductive age is increasing.

Fertility and pregnancy

From approximately 2008-2015, fertility rates and pregnancy rates decreased in both Halton and Ontario. In Milton, however, pregnancy rates and fertility rates are approximately double those in Burlington, Oakville, and Halton Hills.

Teen pregnancy rates in Halton are also on the decline. In 2015, Halton’s teen pregnancy rate was less than half the provincial rate.

While overall therapeutic abortion rates in Halton have remained relatively steady, trends over time differ by age. Among younger age groups, therapeutic abortion rates have been decreasing, while rates have been increasing among older age groups.

Healthy pregnancies

Compared to Ontario mothers, Halton mothers are less likely to smoke, misuse drugs, or report experiencing one or more mental health concerns during pregnancy. Halton mothers were also more likely to attend prenatal classes, consume folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, or have a healthy pre-pregnancy body mass index compared to Ontario mothers. Alcohol exposure during pregnancy was similar in Halton and Ontario. However, nearly half of Halton mothers gained more weight than recommended during pregnancy.

Halton parents are waiting until older ages to have children. The average age of mothers and fathers is increasing in Halton, and Halton had a greater proportion of mother’s aged 35 and over who gave birth compared to Ontario.

Birth outcomes

Each year in Halton there are approximately 5,600 live births. Halton experienced an increase in the number of infants born between 2003 and 2009, after which point the number of infants born began to decrease.

Stillbirth rates in Halton are lower than Ontario, while multiple birth rates are higher compared to Ontario. Large for gestational age rates in Halton have been decreasing, while small for gestational age rates have been increasing.

Infant health outcomes

Infant mortality rates, as well as congenital anomaly and infection rates are lower in Halton than Ontario. In Halton, there has been an increase in the number of mothers initiating breastfeeding with their infants, as well as an increase in breastfeeding duration and exclusive breastfeeding.