Harm­ful habits af­fect bubs

Re­port shows high in­ci­dence of smok­ing dur­ing preg­nancy in re­gion

Western Times - - NEWS - Alexia Austin Alexia.Austin@west­ern­starnews.com

IN­FANT mor­tal­ity is lower in the south out­back than the na­tional av­er­age, but smok­ing dur­ing preg­nancy is up, ac­cord­ing to the newly re­leased Child and Ma­ter­nal Health re­port.

The data, col­lected dur­ing 2013–15, re­veals the num­ber of deaths among in­fants aged five years and un­der (per 1000 births) in the south out­back re­gion was 1.2 per cent, lower than the na­tional av­er­age of 4.1 per cent.

How­ever the re­port de­tailed higher in­ci­dences of smok­ing dur­ing preg­nancy in the out­back re­gion.

When it came to light­ing up dur­ing preg­nancy, the re­gion came close to dou­bling the na­tional av­er­age, with 18.9 per cent of moth­ers in the out­back smok­ing dur­ing their nine-month term, in com­par­i­son to 11 per cent na­tion­ally.

How­ever this fig­ure has de­creased by 2 per cent since the 2012–14 re­port.

The 2013–15 re­port also showed 6.2 per cent of moth­ers in the west recorded a baby with a low birth weight, char­ac­terised as less than 2.5kg, only slightly higher than the na­tional av­er­age of 4.9 per cent.

Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare spokes­woman Anna O’Ma­hony said although the in­creases were con­cern­ing, the health of Aus­tralia’s preg­nant women and their ba­bies had seen im­prove­ments.

“Na­tion­ally there has been a con­sis­tent de­crease in the pro­por­tion of moth­ers smok­ing dur­ing preg­nancy – fall­ing from about one in seven moth­ers in 2009 to one in 10 in 2015 – how­ever rates in some Pri­mary Health Net­work ar­eas are nearly 18 times as high as in oth­ers,” Ms O’Ma­hony said.

South West Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vice Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Med­i­cal Ser­vices Dr Chris Buck said many fac­tors could in­flu­ence in­fant health in the west.

“Life­style con­di­tions such as obe­sity, ges­ta­tional di­a­betes, al­co­hol and drug abuse and chronic dis­eases are higher in ru­ral ar­eas and this may con­trib­ute to poor health in chil­dren born to moth­ers with such con­di­tions,” Dr Buck said.

“Un­healthy and risky be­hav­iours of any kind can and do lead to po­ten­tially pre­ventable hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions.

“The num­ber of women who, de­spite the best ad­vice avail­able, con­tinue to smoke dur­ing preg­nancy is con­cern­ing.

“There is no safe level – the more cig­a­rettes you smoke while preg­nant, the more harm you do to your­self and your baby.”

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