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Expectant Teenage Mothers Continue Smoking

Expectant Teenage Mothers Continue Smoking

Monday, April 7, 2008

New research published in The Medical Journal of Australia shows that forty three percent of Australia's teenage mothers smoke during pregnancy compared to eighteen percent of all mothers.

The research found that smoking among teenage mothers was associated with socio-economic and ethnic status . Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell believes this has implications for New Zealand, which has a much higher teenage birthrate than Australia.

"Our highest teenage birth rates occur in the areas of greatest socio-economic deprivation and amongst Maori. The Maori teenage birth rate is almost 5 times higher than NZ European. The highest rates of smoking also occur in the most deprived decile areas and amongst young Maori. In 2006, 46 percent of 15-19 year-old Maori were current smokers with more female Maori smoking than male. New Zealand research conducted in the early 1990s showed over 60 percent of teenagers smoked during pregnancy with the rate amongst Maori higher again."

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight and slower development. It has also been linked to miscarriage, SIDS, ear infections, asthma, childhood obesity and diabetes.

"The current availability of open-ended welfare encourages teenagers to become mothers. The majority of teenage births lead to dependency on welfare. That so many teenagers continue to smoke throughout their pregnancy provides yet another sound reason to abandon the practice of paying babies to have babies. It is surprising that the current government, with its zeal to prevent damage to health through smoking, continues to give tacit approval via the benefit system."


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