This report introduced, for the first time, the children in the Growing Up in New Zealand cohort.
The babies were born between 3 March 2009 and 14 May 2010, most at term. Over three-quarters (78%) were born in Auckland, Middlemore, or Waikato hospitals. The cohort was made up of 6662 singletons, 89 pairs of twins and two sets of triplets. Males made up 52% (3,526) of the cohort with females making up 48% (3,320).
Nearly one in four (25%) were delivered by caesarean section.
Early infant feeding
- Breastfeeding was attempted for the vast majority of the Growing Up in New Zealand babies for whom this information was available, with 97% of the babies breastfed at all by nine months of age.
- Current New Zealand recommendations recommend six months of exclusive breastfeeding. We found exclusive breastfeeding stopped at four months.
- By nine months of age, the babies had been introduced to a wide range of solid foods, most commonly baby rice, or fruit and vegetables. Plunket was the most commonly reported source of information about infant diet and nutrition for mothers.
- When their babies were nine months old, 54% of the families were living in their own house, with 39% living in private rental, and 7% in public rental accommodation.
- Families, on average, experienced a drop in income, particularly where previous income was between $100,000 and $150,000 per annum.
- An unexpected finding was the nearly one-in-five families were receiving income from four or more sources.
Immunisation and health status
- By the age of nine months, nearly all babies had received their six week (95%) and three month (94%) immunisations. However, coverage had dropped to 90% for the five month immunisations.
- Most mothers reported that their babies were either in excellent or very good health at the age of nine months.
- At six weeks of age, almost three-quarters of the babies had been seen by Plunket. Almost 91% of the cohort children received all of their Well Child/Tamariki Ora checks in their first nine months.
- When primary health care was required, most babies were taken to either a single known doctor (67%) or to one of several doctors at one practice (27%).
Parental health status and health related behaviour
- When the children were nine months of age, 11% of mothers had symptoms suggestive of postnatal depression compared to 16% of mothers who had symptoms suggestive of depression in late pregnancy. Being a young mother or having high levels of financial or relationship stress increased the chances of a mother having poorer mental health postnatally.
- Mothers’ alcohol consumption patterns when their children were nine months of age tended to be lower than pre-pregnancy. New Zealand European mothers were more likely to be drinking alcohol than mothers of any other ethnicity.
- When the babies were nine months of age, 14% of mothers were smoking, and almost one in three of the cohort children were living in a household where someone smoked cigarettes.
Family stability and family environments
- Approximately nine out of 10 children had parents who had been in a stable relationship over the previous 12 months. Mothers under the age of 20, those without secondary school qualifications, and those living in the most deprived areas were most likely to have experienced a change in their relationship status. Approximately one-quarter of the cohort are growing up in an extended family situation and approximately one in 12 children were being brought up by a mother without a current partner.
Parental work and leave
- Of those mothers who were in paid employment when pregnant, over 80% had taken some leave. Of these, 30% were still on leave when their babies were nine months old. The leave taken by mothers was most likely to be a combination of paid parental leave (87%), unpaid parental leave (55%) and annual leave (34%). Over half of the mothers who had taken leave used two or three types of leave to cover their time away from employment.
- Over 2000 of the mothers had returned to work by the time their children were nine months old, with the majority (83%) returning to work for their previous employer.
- Returning to work or study was the main reason for why over 2200 of the cohort children spent time (an average of 20 hours per week) being looked after by someone other than their parents at nine months of age. Of those in child care for more than eight hours per week, 40% (685) used an early child care centre such as daycare, Kohanga Reo, or Pacific Islands early childhood centre, 32% were being looked after by their grandparents, and a further 6% were with another relative.
- The types of main child care providers used at nine months differ notably by ethnicity.
Read the full results in our Now we are born report