Cancer Council has raised concern over new figures showing 35 per cent of teenage mothers and 15 per cent of all mothers in Queensland smoke at some point during their pregnancy.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare issued Australia’s Mothers and Babies 2012 report yesterday, revealing 12.5 per cent of women nationally smoked while pregnant in 2012.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the figures were concerning, and highlighted the need for joint action to address smoking in the community.
“Action on smoking requires the cooperation of all levels of government, health agencies, and the community sector,” Ms Clift said.
“It’s crucial that pregnant women in Queensland continue to receive resources and support to quit smoking.
“Funding for evidence-based approaches are vital in helping expectant mothers to quit smoking and stay smoke free during their pregnancy and beyond.
“Proven strategies include specialised skill-based training for health professionals, social workers, and community members, who can then connect directly with women to support quitting.
“We must also assist the partners of women to quit smoking, further promoting smoke free homes and lifestyles.”
Cancer Council has also called for the introduction of smoke free spaces to reduce the rate of smoking during pregnancy.
“We urgently need to continue with progressive reforms – like smoke free spaces – to guarantee fresh air and healthy childhoods for our next generation,” Ms Clift said.
“Smoke free spaces will accelerate Queensland’s quit rate, continuing our historic achievements at reducing the prevalence of smoking, with flow-on effects for rates of maternal smoking, promoting the health of mothers and their unborn babies.
“We must continue smoke free strategies to see this trend continue for the benefit of Queensland’s next generation.”
Smoking while pregnant can cause a range of health complications for both the mother and child, including an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, SIDS and the likelihood a child will have problems with lung development and lung function.
The percentage of women smoking at some time during their pregnancy varies from 10% to 50% across Hospital and Health Services — the state prevalence is estimated at around 15 per cent.
Indigenous Queenslanders, teenagers and women from disadvantaged areas smoked during pregnancy at about three to six times the rate of others.
“Indigenous Queensland women are three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to smoke during pregnancy, with 52 per cent of Indigenous mothers reporting that they smoked during pregnancy, compared to 16 per cent of non-Indigenous mothers,” Ms Clift said.
All pregnant women in Queensland can receive specialised assistance with quitting through Hospital and Health Services and the Quitline.
Smoking is estimated to cost the Queensland economy more than $6 billion each year, causing around 3,700 deaths and resulting in over 36,000 hospitalisations.
Estimates suggest about 500,000 adults still smoke in Queensland, with daily smoking prevalence of 14% for adults. Two thirds of long-term smokers will die from smoking related causes.
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848), or join the QUEST to quit at www.quest.org.au.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171