Native Village Youth and Education News

March 1, 2009 Issue 195 Volume 3


Smoking while pregnant contributes to Nunavut's high rate of early births
Condensed by Native Village


Nunavut: A Nunavut health official says expectant mothers' lifestyle choices are one reason why Nunavut has the highest rate of pre-term babies in Canada. One of those lifestyle choices is smoking. Between 2007-2008:

10.8% of babies born in Nunavut hospitals  were pre-term. This means they were born before 37 weeks of gestation
By comparison, Canada's national average of pre-term birth rate was
7%  of Nunavut babies had  low birth weights
8% were born smaller than expected for their gestational age
22.7% of babies born in Nunavut were to teenage mothers, compared to 4.8% nationally (excluding Quebec).

Babies born early are more likely to be small and  develop health problems later in life.

"Certainly for the small babies the low birth weight babies smoking is a definite risk factor," said Dr. Geraldine Osborne. "We know that we have very high rates of smoking among pregnant women in Nunavut. Roughly around 80% of pregnant women smoke."

She added that pregnant women are smoking more cigarettes than ever.

Osborne said other factors include poor nutrition, unsteady food supplies in many Nunavut households, and a high rate of teenage pregnancy.

Osborne said one of Nunavut's health goals is to improve healthy birth rates. This means reducing the numbers of pre-term and low-weight babies and reducing the number of teen pregnancies.

Pre-term birth rates in the other northern territories were close to the national average:

The Yukon: 8.4%
Northwest Territories
Alberta and Newfoundland

 CBC News


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