Harmful habits affect bubs
Report shows high incidence of smoking during pregnancy in region
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.”