Plenty of women still 'light up' while pregnant
A SUNSHINE Coast health expert says he is disappointed to find women are still not getting the message to "butt out" while pregnant.
A national health report found 15.6% of Sunshine Coast women continued to smoke while pregnant.
The National Health Performance Authority Healthy Communities: Child and Maternal Health report 2009-12 found the national average for pregnant smokers was 13.9%.
Far-west New South Wales was found to have the highest rate, 33.1%, and Sydney's North Shore the lowest, 1.8%.
The Cancer Council has used the figures to renew its push to introduce more smoke-free spaces.
Cancer Council spokeswoman Kate Clift said smoking during pregnancy caused a range of complications including risk of miscarriage, premature birth and SIDS.
She felt the move to go smoke-free would guarantee fresh air and a healthy childhood for future generations and encourage existing smokers to quit the habit.
- 15.6% of Sunshine Coast women smoke while pregnant.
- 13.9% is the national average of women who smoke while pregnant.
- The highest rate of women who smoke while pregnant is 33.1% in far western NSW.
- The lowest rate is Sydney's North Shore at 1.8%.
"We have made significant progress in Queensland because of government action on smoking, resulting in a decrease in the maternal smoking rate from 20% in 2006 to 15% in 2012, a significant improvement," Ms Clift said.
"We must continue smoke-free strategies to see this trend continue for the benefit of Queensland's next generation."
University of Sunshine Coast health professor John Lowe has researched smoking and pregnancy for more than 30 years and is disappointed by the 15% figure.
"We had been making good strides and it's disappointing to hear that it's backsliding," he said.
He felt women should think about quitting smoking before they made the decision to get pregnant.
"We need to continue to offer support services to women who wish to quit and make them aware that if they're sexually active and thinking of getting pregnant, that's the time we want them to consider quitting smoking," he said.
Prof Lowe said 70% of smokers made at least one attempt per year to quit the habit, including many pregnant women.
However, he said, almost 100% of women who quit smoking while pregnant went back to the habit after they had their baby.
He also felt it was more difficult for mums to quit the habit if their partner was a smoker, and encouraged partners to consider going smoke-free also.
For help in quitting smoking, visit quitnow.gov.au.
WE ASKED OUR READERS EARLIER THIS WEEK IF THEY FELT SMOKING SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. HERE IS WHAT THEY SAID: