The Asthma Foundation WA has welcomed Health Minister Nicola Roxon’s announcement today of the launch of the Federal Government’s first anti-smoking campaign aimed specifically at Indigenous Australians.
The campaign is part of a plan to reduce the number of Indigenous smokers by 50 per cent by 2018. The current smoking rate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is around 50 per cent and nearly 51 per cent of Indigenous women in Australia also smoke during pregnancy.
This highlights a concern for the effects of smoking for unborn children and newborns.
“The unborn child is passive smoking when the mother is a smoker or is exposed to smoke,” Asthma Foundation WA Health Promotion Officer Jo Petersen said.
“This is because the baby receives tobacco by-products though the mother's bloodstream. These by-products include nicotine and carbon monoxide,” she said.
“Nicotine increases the baby's heart rate and the carbon monoxide takes the place of the oxygen in the blood, leaving less oxygen for the baby.”
“A higher risk of asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), unhealthy birth weight, miscarriage or premature labour, perinatal mortality, a difficult pregnancy and birth as well as ectopic pregnancy occurs when a pregnant women smokes or is exposed to smoke during pregnancy.”
The Asthma Foundation of WA coordinates the Newborns’ Asthma Parental Smoking (NAPS) Indigenous Women’s Project funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging.
The project promotes the message “Fresh Air Grows Solid Babies” throughout Western Australia. It aims to encourage pregnant women, new mothers and their families to protect the unborn child and newborn from exposure to tobacco smoke.
For more information on the project, training enquires or to obtain free resources, please contact Jo Petersen on 9289 3641 or visit the project website www.smokefreebaby.org.au.
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