In­fant mor­tal­ity high in the south­west ac­cord­ing to new health re­port.

Re­port shows high in­fant mor­tal­ity, smok­ing in preg­nancy in re­gion

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - Alexia Austin [email protected]­ern­

IN­FANT mor­tal­ity is higher in the south­west than the na­tional av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to the newly re­leased Child and Ma­ter­nal Health re­port.

The data, col­lected dur­ing 2013–15, re­veals the num­ber of deaths among in­fants aged one year and un­der (per 1000 births) in the Darling Downs WestMara­noa re­gion was 6.1 per cent, higher than the na­tional av­er­age of 3.4 per cent.

The re­port de­tailed higher in­ci­dences of smok­ing dur­ing preg­nancy and low birth weight in the Darling Downs West-Mara­noa re­gion.

When it came to light­ing up dur­ing preg­nancy, the re­gion came close to dou­bling the na­tional av­er­age, with 19.4 per cent of moth­ers in the south­west smok­ing dur­ing their nine-month term, in com­par­i­son to 11 per cent.

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

The 2013–15 re­port also showed 5.8 per cent of south­west moth­ers 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 can in­flu­ence mor­tal­ity rates in in­fants.

“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 and pre­ma­ture deaths.

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

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

❝al­most Metropoli­tan ar­eas had a rate of 4 (in­fant) deaths per 1000 births. The rate was around

1.4 times higher in re­gional ar­eas.

— Anna O’Ma­hony

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