Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How many children do you have?

How many children do you have?

It may seem like a really simple question for most, but when you have lost a child it is one that you struggle with each time it is asked. Personally I answer it depending on who is asking the question. For example if I am in the supermarket and the cashier is just making small talk I will say 3, but if I get the chance to bring up my firstborn daughter Yasminah in conversation and get to include her in my family I tell them I have had 4 children, but my second child passed away before birth at 37 weeks.

So what do you do when the government, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in particular asks -
For each female, how many babies has she ever given birth to?
Include live births only
Exclude adopted, foster and step children

Personally this question had me torn. I gave birth to Yasminah, she is my child.

Many of my friends and the babylost community were in uproar! How can we not include our stillborn babies? We gave birth to our children, we held them in our arms. What about families who have adopted children or are foster parents? Why do they not get to include their children?

The following experts were obtained directly from the ABS, but I thought it was important that the information was highlighted so that we can all understand why the question is asked and why it is worded the way that it is and remove a lot of the confusion out there about this question.

This question is asked by the ABS to analyse the changing trends of the contribution of births to Australia’s population growth.

The term "fertility" is commonly used to refer to the capacity to, or the occurrence of conceiving and becoming pregnant. The term 'fertility' is used by the ABS in the context of 'measures of lifetime fertility' as a demographic concept, rather than a person’s biological ability to conceive. The Census aims to measure the population's performance in replacing itself by reproduction.

The term 'birth' is used to refer to the number of babies contributing to population growth, rather than the process of giving birth to a baby.

The ABS recognise that the use of the above terms (fertility and birth) may upset or offend some people. None of this should be taken to mean that babies that pass away before or during birth are not important. They are incredibly precious to their families, and are included in official statistics. The terminology used is consistent with guidelines set by the United Nations.

There are comprehensive statistics collected by State and Territory health departments on all births (including fetal deaths of at least 20 weeks gestation or 400 grams weight) and neonatal deaths. The national results are collated by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's (AIHW) National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit and published in the annual report Australia's Mothers and Babies - Perinatal Statistics Series No. 24 (Cat. No. PER 50).These reports are available free on the AIHW website www.aihw.gov.au.

Australia has very good quality death registration statistics and particularly perinatal statistics, and therefor it is not necessary to include an additional question on the Census on stillbirth and perinatal deaths.

Did you include your stillborn child in tonight's Census?
If you want to make a difference and have your voice heard and have all children counted in the next Census 

There will be an opportunity for further consultation, research and testing of the question wording before the next Census in 2016. In late 2012, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will call for submissions in preparation for the 2016 Census and invite public comment on changes to the Census form

The full article regarding question 32 can be found here 

What are your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. We had a census last year in the US and it had a similar question. I hate that question. Ugh...I wasn't allowed to put my babies info in there either :(