Kim Fulton is a NZME. News Service regional reporter

Concern at number of pregnant women smoking

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Smoking while pregnant lowers the oxygen available to the mother and baby.
Smoking while pregnant lowers the oxygen available to the mother and baby.

Northland has high rates of smoking among pregnant women and Maori despite fewer people in general smoking.

Northland people phoned Quitline 300 times between January 1 and early March and accessed the website 42 times.

Jan Marshall, Northland District Health Board Smokefree hospital facilitator, said the region's smoking rates fell from 25.7 per cent in 2006 to 19 per cent in 2013. However, Maori smoking rates were still high, at 33.9 per cent.

"Smokers and their families are still suffering unnecessarily from the harmful effects." Another problem in Northland was the number of women smoking during pregnancy.

Smoking while pregnant lowers the oxygen available to the mother and baby while it could increase a baby's heart rate, the chance of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight.

Ms Marshall said most smokers wanted to stop and referrals from hospital services were increasing. The top reasons for hospital patients deciding to quit were health, money and wanting to be smokefree role models for their children.

Smokers could quit even if they had been unsuccessful in the past, especially with stop-smoking medications, she added.

She said support from a stop-smoking service helped deal with smoking habits and craving for nicotine.

While many Northlanders were successfully giving up, some relapsed because others were smoking around them or due to stress, she said.

"That's why it's important to get help to work through those potential stresses in advance and have a plan in place and to be in the mind-set that 'I am now a non-smoker'."

E-cigarettes were having mixed success and Ms Marshall recommended those using them also get other support.

Stop Smoking Services:

* Ngati Hine Health Trust - Aukati Kaipaipa (09) 972 7937

* Te Hiku Hauora Aukati Kaipaipa Team Kaitaia (09) 408 4024

* Quitline 0800 778 778 or www.quit.org.nz

- Northern Advocate

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