Pregnant women having trouble quitting smoking should be encouraged to seek additional help and support from medical practitioners, partners, friends and family according to Quit.
Smoking and pregnancy is in the spotlight again, following the release of an Australian study showing many Australian women who smoke don’t quit during pregnancy, and if they do cut back it’s only by a couple of cigarettes a day.
Executive Director of Quit, Ms Fiona Sharkie, said many pregnant women remained in the dark when it came to the health impact of smoking on their unborn child.
“Smoking during pregnancy accounts for a range of serious health problems for new and unborn babies, yet data shows less than 1 in 20 smokers spontaneously identify pregnancy complications as being caused by smoking.”
Ms Sharkie said the data, from the Cancer Council Victoria, also reveals only 40% of smokers agree, when prompted, that smoking can cause miscarriage.
“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 on early childhood development.”
“Smoking during pregnancy can result in asthma and reduced lung function but also has neurobehavioral impacts and can increase irritability and physical aggression and reduce academic performance.”
Ms Sharkie said it was important that pregnant women are not demonised for smoking, but instead are given all the help and support they need to give their babies a great start to life.
“Pregnancy and parenthood can be a stressful time, and clearly many new mums find it difficult to quit during pregnancy or stay quit once their baby is born.”
“For pregnant women who want to quit, the help of the Quitline and health professionals including general practitioners, midwives, nurses and obstetricians is even more significant and should extend through pregnancy to post-natal care.”
“Women’s partners and families also play a vital role, as being around non-smokers is an essential element of helping a pregnant woman stay quit, and there is no doubt that a totally smokefree home is the best atmosphere for a new baby.”
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