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Congratulations. You're Pregnant! What a great reason to quit

Sunday 11 May, 2003

As families across Victoria focus on their mums today, a new campaign has been unveiled to encourage pregnant smokers to quit.

The campaign has been prompted by research that shows around a quarter of expectant mums smoke, and features a 'feel good' television commercial showing a young couple receiving news they're pregnant from their doctor.

It’s estimated that each year in Australia, around 58,000 babies are born to smokers.

Smoking during pregnancy accounts for a range of serious health problems for new and unborn babies, including:

  • one third of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) deaths in pregnancy alone
  • 9% of all miscarriages (the risk of miscarriage increases the more the mother smokes)
  • 23% of all low birthweight babies
  • 9% of still births

Obstetrician Dr Shane Higgins from the Royal Women’s Hospital said at today’s launch that smoking during pregnancy and after a baby is born poses serious health risks to unborn and new babies.

'Pregnant women should not underestimate the dangers to their baby of continuing to smoke,' Dr Higgins said.

'There is a growing body of research to support the profound negative effect that smoking by a mother during pregnancy has on unborn babies, an effect that has lasting and widespread consequences.'

Dr Higgins said it was also important for a baby’s wellbeing for fathers to quit.

'Smoking by fathers has been demonstrated to have a similar but lesser effect on many pregnancy measures and outcomes,' he said.

Quit Victoria’s Executive Director Todd Harper says the new campaign is targeted at new mothers as well as pregnant smokers. Mr Harper says there is strong evidence to show women may quit during their pregnancy but an alarming number return to smoking once the baby is born.

'Research shows about half of all pregnant women who quit go back to smoking within six months of the birth of their baby, and a staggering 70% return to smoking within twelve months of their pregnancy or birth of their baby.'

'We understand that pregnancy and parenthood can be a stressful time, and clearly many new mums find it difficult to stay quit once their baby is born.'

'However, it’s also a time the support of a service like the Quitline is even more important, as generally, products such as nicotine patches and other drugs that can help in quitting are not recommended during pregnancy.'

Mr Harper said the campaign also aimed to encourage pregnant women’s partners to quit, as this can be an important part of helping a pregnant woman stay quit.

'It’s great to quit together for the extra support, and a totally smokefree home is the best atmosphere for a new baby.'

At today’s launch, former smoker Maria Papillo, who is 8 months pregnant with her first child, said she quit smoking as soon as she found out she was pregnant.

'Finding out that I was pregnant was a big motivation to quit and to stay quit, and my husband is also planning to quit. We both want to make sure we give our baby a great start to life,' she said.

Mr Harper says in Victoria, Quitline has developed a unique service for pregnant mums, which provides them with resources and telephone support throughout their pregnancy and after the baby is born.

'In launching this campaign, we want to ensure that pregnant smokers around Victoria are aware they can get support through Quitline’s Pregnancy Callback Service to help them quit and stay quit.'

'Simply calling the Quitline on 131 848 can help pregnant smokers give their babies a great start to life.'

Pregnant smokers who want to quit smoking can access Quitline’s Pregnancy Callback Service for the cost of a local call from anywhere in Victoria by calling the Quitline on 137 848.

Further information:
Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager

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