Expectant mums endangering babies

Studies have found that 40% of women drink while pregnant, while 20% smoke.
Studies have found that 40% of women drink while pregnant, while 20% smoke. Kerri Burns-Taylor

EXPECTANT Warwick mums are ignoring warnings from health professionals and boozing and smoking through their pregnancies.

A recent study found that an alarming 40% of Australian women are endangering their child's health by drinking alcohol when pregnant, while around one in five will continue to smoke.

Warwick Hospital midwife Ross Newton said there were huge benefits from giving up smoking but said the mother had to want to give up.

"The less they smoke through pregnancy the better and if they can give up that's fantastic," he said.

"Part of our first visit is a tobacco screen and an alcohol and drug screening tool.

"That's where we ask whether they smoke, how much they smoke, whether they have decreased that amount since they found out they're pregnant and if they want to give up.

"I think it helps a lot of our girls, especially when we go through the benefits that can be seen when they stop."

He said the mothers' concerns about the health of their children was sometimes enough to give them the push to quit.

Mr Newton was unsure whether it was a lifestyle choice that saw mothers flout warnings or whether the women simply didn't comprehend the risks.

While statistics show women are more likely to drink than smoke during pregnancy, Mr Newton said he encountered more of the latter but said it was less common in older mums.

"I think it spans across all ages but it probably decreases more in older mums and they generally make more enquiries about giving up," he said.

Queensland Health Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said drinking during pregnancy or while breastfeeding posed a risk to the baby's health.

"High-level and/or frequent intake of alcohol in pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight," she said.

"For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest option is not to drink any alcohol, as recommended in the national guidelines for alcohol consumption."

Dr Young said smoking while pregnant also increased the risk of pregnancy complications.

"Health effects on the child may include, decreased lung function, higher incidence of asthma and an increased risk of developing behavioural problems, such as antisocial behaviour," she said.

Pregnant women looking to quit smoking are urged to contact their doctor or midwife.



Women who smoke or drink while pregnant risk:

  •  Miscarriage
  •  Stillbirth
  •  Premature birth
  •  Ectopic pregnancies

Children of smoking/drinking mothers may develop:

  •  Respiratory illnesses
  •  Behavioural problems
  •  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Topics:  drinking health mum parenting pregnancy warwick hospital

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