1 in 4 pregnant women smoke
Reported November 11, 2007
ONE in four pregnant women in Tasmania are risking their unborn babies’ health by smoking.
Startling 2005 figures released by Tasmania’s Health and Human Services Minister Lara Giddings has triggered a warning for mothers who are endangering their unborn babies’ health.
The statistics show that 27.6 per cent of Tasmanian women smoke while they are pregnant.
According to the National Perinatal Statistics Unit, in 2003 about 17.3 per cent of Australian women smoked while pregnant.
Smoking during pregnancy was most prevalent in Australian teenage mothers, at 42.1 per cent.
Smoking during pregnancy decreased in older women, with 10.9 per cent of mothers aged 35 years and older continuing the habit.
Ms Giddings said the alarming trend must be stopped.
“The findings are disturbing,” she said.
“They reveal a real threat to the short and long-term health of babies whose mothers smoke in pregnancy, not to mention the health of the women themselves.
“To make matters worse, the information suggests that smoking is more common among younger pregnant women at the height of their child-bearing years.”
Ms Giddings said poor health results in children for mothers who smoke during pregnancy included:
* Low birth weight and prematurity;
* Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS);
* Asthma and other respiratory infections; and
* Learning difficulties and behavioural problems.
Anti-smoking authority, Quit Victoria, is working to help dispel myths about weight control in smoking and improve the health of all Australians.
Quit Victoria executive director Fiona Sharkie said smoking in pregnancy was “one of the worst things you can do” to lower birth weight or control weight during pregnancy
“Pre-term births is 60 per cent higher in women who smoke during pregnancy,” Ms Sharkie said.
“The development impacts (on the baby) are significant.
“And nine out of 10 babies that die of SIDS are in households where the mother smokes.”
Ms Sharkie said a recent NSW study found that smoking did not reduce fat levels and could actually increase them.