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Study: Mums who smoke need more help

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/09/2016

New strategies are needed to help New Zealand mothers quit smoking, according to researchers who found that one in 10 women reported smoking during pregnancy.

The Auckland University study also showed that mothers-to-be who were young, were Maori and were socially-deprived were more likely to smoke.

The findings, published in the NZ Medical Journal, come from data collected from nearly 7000 pregnant women in 2009-10. The women were recruited before their children were born.

In total, 20 per cent reported that they smoked before they became pregnant and 10 per cent said they continued during their pregnancy.

Among pregnant women, the figures were highest for teenagers (31 per cent), Maori (32 per cent), those who were the most deprived (20 per cent) and those without secondary school qualifications (41 per cent).

The authors say a better understanding of these differences is needed in order to find appropriate ways to support women in becoming smoke-free.

They say reducing maternal tobacco smoke exposure has the potential to have a positive health effect that far exceeds the immediate health of both mother and infant.

"There is a paucity of local evidence on the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions for Maori women," they said.

"Without effective interventions to reduce tobacco smoke exposure in pregnancy, intergenerational health equalities will be come more entrenched."

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