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Wednesday, 27 October 1993
Page: 2677

(Question No. 616)


Senator Patterson asked the Minister for Family Services, upon notice, on 27 September 1993:

  (1) What is the best estimate of the number of Australian women who have breast implants.

  (2) What is the best estimate of the percentage of these women who have saline implants fitted.

  (3) What is the best estimate of the percentage of these women who have silicone implants fitted.

  (4) What amount of Commonwealth funding has been spent over each of the financial years 1991-92 and 1992-93 on medical research into the health risks associated with breast implants.

  (5) What amount of Commonwealth funding will be spent over the 1993-94 financial year on medical research into the health risks associated with breast implants.

  (6) What is the nature of the medical research produced or commissioned by the department into the health risks associated with breast implants and has any research been conducted into the possible link between breast implants and young children with malfunctioning immune systems; if so, please provide copies.


Senator Crowley —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The best estimate is between 30,000 and 50,000. Some estimates have put the number as high as 100,000, but there is no way to determine a more precise figure.

  (2) Until the withdrawal of silicone gel filled breast implants on 8 January 1992 approximately 20 to 30 percent of implants were saline filled.

  (3) Approximately 70 to 80 percent of women who sought breast implants used silicone gel filled breast prostheses prior to 8 January 1992.

  (4) I am advised that there was no Commonwealth funding over the 1991-92 and 1992-93 financial years for medical research into the health risks associated with breast implants.

  (5) I am advised that no Commonwealth funding has been allocated over the 1993-94 financial year for medical research into the health risks associated with breast implants.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) would be happy to consider support for research into the risks associated with breast implants, should applications with adequate scientific merit be received from appropriately qualified applicants.

  (6) As outlined in response to the previous two questions, I am advised that no research has been produced or commissioned by the Department into health risks associated with breast implants nor any link between breast implants and young children with malfunctioning immune systems.