Smoking mums 'need support'
ALMOST one in three women on the Fraser Coast smokes during pregnancy, alarming new statistics reveal.
A Qld Health review of health services on the Fraser Coast shows that 31 per cent of Fraser Coast mums-to-be light up, compared with a state average of 21 per cent; and fewer women are quitting the habit here than else-where during pregnancy.
The review also shows that the Fraser Coast, with 8.8 per cent, has a higher proportion of teenage mothers compared with Qld's 5.6 per cent average.
The region has a higher number of pre-term and low birth-weight babies compared with the rest of Qld.
The statistics have not come as a surprise to Maryborough GP Paul Cotton, who sees them as confirmation the Fraser Coast is at a distinct socio-economic disadvantage.
“We're a basket case in that respect and have been for many years,” he said.
Dr Cotton's view that this is a disadvantaged socio-economic region was backed up by Hinkler MP Paul Neville, who said unemployment among young people in the Wide Bay Burnett region had almost doubled since November 2007.
Solving the problem of young mums who smoke through pregnancies is a bigger challenge than stubbing out a few cigarette butts, Maryborough GP Paul Cotton believes.
Reacting to new figures that show a 10 per cent difference between the number of Fraser Coast mothers smoking and the rest of the state, Dr Cotton focused on the predicament of smokers who feel forced into the habit because of life situations, often on society's margins.
“The answer is to have socio-economic advantage. Give people jobs, keep them engaged, keep them productive,” he said.
“They need options. They need support. They need education. They need advantage.
“People shouldn't smoke, full stop, and where there's a pregnancy it means two people are involved.
“The issues are absolutely proven, as are the consequences of future compromised health and compromised ability.
“The evidence is clear and it is damning.”
Dr Cotton said dynamic, inspirational political leadership would be required to achieve a long-term, sustainable solution.
His view that this is a disadvantaged region was supported by Hinkler MP Paul Neville, who said unemployment among young people in the Wide Bay Burnett region had almost doubled since November 2007.
“Unemployment for 15-24-year-olds has skyrocketed,” he said.
“In November 2007 it was 16.3 per cent, but by June this year it had blown out to 33 per cent.
“Full-time unemployment for 15-19-year-olds in the region was at 42.1 per cent in June, up from 18.1 per cent in November 2007.”
Total unemployment for 15-24-years-olds, which doesn't include people who have part-time or casual work, was 18 per cent in June, compared to 9.2 per cent in November 2007.
Mr Neville said training opportunities were important in improving skillsbut strong support for small business and new enterprises was the key to creating jobs in regional areas.