Pregnant mums still smoking
ONE in eight mothers has smoked during pregnancy, with shocking new statistics exposing smoking rates of 40 per cent in parts of Queensland.
Official data reveals alarming rates of smoking among pregnant women, despite doctors’ warnings of the health threats to unborn babies.
Between 2013 and 2015 a staggering 40 per cent of new mothers in far north Queensland, 30 per cent in the Burnett region and nearly a quarter of those in Caboolture and Ipswich smoked while pregnant, according to statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Babies exposed to smoke risk being underweight and stillborn.
Babies in those regions were more likely to be born underweight.
Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon, an obstetrician, said smoking starved babies of oxygen and nutrients and could cause premature births.
He said the latest research showed that babies exposed to smoking in the womb were more likely to suffer obesity or diabetes when they grew up.
“There is no excuse for not understanding tobacco smoking is dangerous,” Dr Gannon told The Courier Mail.
“There is a risk of still births, low-weight and preterm babies. But smoking is a very difficult habit to kick.
“Some women do manage to quit, but pregnancy can be a stressful time so some of them will latch back in. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance.”
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said he was concerned that the latest data showed 12.4 per cent of Queensland mothers smoked during pregnancy. But he was pleased that the rate had fallen 6 per cent in six years.
He said dads needed to kick the habit too.
“There is no safe level of smoking, and the more you smoke, the more harm you do to yourself and your baby,’’ he said.
“But it’s not just mums that have to make big changes – fathers need to step up too. Passive smoking can also have an impact, so if you find out you’re going to be a dad you should quit as soon as possible.’’