Many factors lead to infants being born under their ideal weight.
Many factors lead to infants being born under their ideal weight. Perboge/iStock

Smoking mums put Bundaberg babies at risk

DESPITE years of cigarette health warnings, local mothers are still putting their babies at risk.

More than 20 per cent of Bundaberg women smoke during pregnancy.

Analysis of national health data for 2012-14 also shows about 7.4 per cent of local babies are born below the optimum birthweight and just over 66 per cent of Bundaberg mothers breastfeed.

Experts say smoking while pregnant can lead to low birthweights and potentially fatal complications for the baby.

"Smoking causes a reduction in the blood oxygen to the fetus, the nicotine can induce early labour and the poison in cigarettes can interfere with the fetus's metabolism,” University of Queensland women's health researcher Gita Mishra said.

Professor Mishra said obesity could also have a major impact on unborn infants.

"We know that around 50 per cent of women of reproductive age are overweight or obese and that has been shown to lead to low birthweights,” she said.

"Studies show that underweight babies are at higher risk of getting asthma, they have slower physical, social and cognitive development - they end up with additional challenges in life.”

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Family and Community Services nursing director Carol McMullen said local women were supported to give up smoking.

"As part of antenatal care, our staff use a tobacco screen tool at their first appointment,” Ms McMullen said.

"Our antenatal staff provide advice and link women with Quitline and other smoking cessation options.”

Queensland Health spent $5million on anti-smoking programs across the state last year, including $214,400 on Quit for Baby, which is designed to reduce female smoking rates.

Smoking kills 40 adults a day in Australia.

"Every cigarette smoked has an immediate and negative effect on both the woman and her baby,” a QH spokesperson said.

"There is no safe level of smoking during pregnancy.

"There is no better time to stop smoking than when you are pregnant or thinking of starting a family.” - NewsRegional  

HOW WE COMPARE

Region, % low birth weight, % women who smoke during pregnancy

Bundaberg, 7.4, 22.4

Cairns, 7.1, 19.1

Fraser Coast, 7.2, 24.5

Gympie, 5.5, 24.4

Gladstone, 5.4, 16.1

Gold Coast, 6.3, 10.7

Ipswich, 6.3, 20.0

Mackay, 5.4, 14.7

Rockhampton, 6.7, 20.1

Southern Downs, 6.9, 20.9

Sunshine Coast, 5.7, 11.2

Toowoomba, 6.9, 15.3

Townsville, 6.7, 12

BRISBANE, 6.2, 5.5

QUEENSLAND, 6.5, 14.2

AUSTRALIA, 6.1, 12.3

Source: PHIDU Social Health Atlas of Australia