A NEW report reveals a staggering 26.5% of women in the Wide Bay smoked while pregnant, a figure that is concerning many health organisations.
The National Health Performance Authority report released this week was the first in Australia to break down by local area infant and child death rates, smoking during pregnancy, the percentage of low birth-weight babies and women who had at least one antenatal visit in their first trimester.
The report revealed the region had higher infant mortality - 6.2 deaths per 1000 live births - and maternal smoking rates than nearly any other area of similar size and social structure.
Bundaberg Hospital nurse unit manager Dohna Myler, of the Bundaberg Family Unit, said smoking while pregnant could impact your baby's health in a variety of ways.
"Smoking while pregnant causes less oxygen and nutrients to be supplied to the baby," she said.
"It is also linked to babies having an increased risk of SIDS, asthma, colds, ear infections and respiratory problems."
She said the Bundaberg Family Unit helped parents with quitting through a Tobacco Screening Tool.
"Parents complete this process at each of their five antenatal visits," she said.
"The Tobacco Screening Tool clearly identifies the risks associated with smoking, highlights the benefits of quitting, addresses the barriers that exist and offers to help parents."
Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said it was concerning to see such a high rate of smoking during pregnancy reported for the Wide Bay region.
"Smoking while pregnant can cause a range of health complications for both the mother and child," she said.
"There are a range of factors that can influence rates of smoking in different areas, including socio-economic status and other demographic characteristics.
"We urgently need the State Government to introduce smoke-free spaces across Queensland to further decrease the prevalence of smoking and encourage more Queenslanders to quit."
Ms Clift said a number of things could be done to reverse the statistic.
"Smoke-free spaces is first on the Cancer Council's list of things to do and will have the biggest impact on smoking prevalence," she said.
"It's also crucial that pregnant women in Queensland continue to receive resources and support to quit."
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline on 13 78 48.
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