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Young and smoking mothers numbers here are double provincial average

young-momNumbers for new mothers under age 20 and mothers who smoke are improving, in Hastings and Prince Edward counties, but are still well above the provincial average.

The Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit, in its Reproductive Health Report, looked at key pre and postnatal outcomes as well as attendance at prenatal classes.

In 2011 there were 1,459 births in the two counties.  About 41 per cent of those births were to first-time mothers.

The percentage of births to mothers younger than 20 years of age has continued to decline since 2008 from 8.6 per cent to 6.7 per cent in 2011- more than double the provincial average of 3.2 per cent.
Rates of any smoking during pregnancy are also decreasing from 30 per cent in 2008 to 24.4 per cent in 2011, also more than double the provincial average of 10.9 per cent.

“Although our rates of births to young mothers and smoking during pregnancy are declining, we are still well above the provincial average and have more work to do,”  says Nancy McGeachy, Program Manager. “We have a number of programs in place, including sexual health clinics both at Health Unit offices, and in some of our high schools as well as a smoking cessation program specifically for pre and postnatal women.”

Rates of low birth weight (less than 5.5 lbs) have increased slightly in Hasting and Prince Edward counties. In 2011 the rate of low birth weight was 7.7 per cent which is slightly above the provincial average of 6.6 per cent.
Smoking, using alcohol, not gaining enough weight during pregnancy and being younger than 20 or over age 35 can increase the chance of a woman having a baby of low birth weight.
Other factors that can contribute to low birth weight are social and economic factors and previous preterm birth.  A baby with low birth weight has an increased risk for short-term complications in infancy and childhood as well as chronic diseases in adult life.

McGeachy says prenatal care is a key factor in preventing preterm births and low birth weight babies. Attendance at the Health Unit’s prenatal education classes has been increasing in the last three years (2011-2013).  Classes are offered in partnership with The Ontario Early Years Centre and Quinte Health Care.

“We are happy to see the number of mothers attending prenatal education increasing and we hope the introduction of a new online program will help us reach more women earlier in pregnancy,” says McGeachy.

The board of health is required to monitor health trends over time, to identify emerging issues and to improve program and services.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Loretta says:

    Sad to hear that we are twice the provincial average. The results of the study are supposed to influence local health care programs and services, any chance we can use this to stop further reductions of services at PECMH?

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