Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published a report, which notes that 17.3% of women who gave birth in 2003 smoked during pregnancy. The report noted that one in five Australian women smoked during pregnancy.
The rates were found to be much higher in aboriginals and teenage mothers than woman who gave birth later in life. "Smoking during pregnancy was most prevalent in teenage mothers, 42 per cent, compared to 10.9 per cent of mothers aged 35 years and older," said Elizabeth Sullivan, from AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit.
The study found that 40% of women in remote areas smoked during pregnancy compared to 14% of women living in cities. The rate of smoking among aboriginals was found to be highest at 52%.
Despite the risks associated with smoking during pregnancy like increased risk of preterm baby and increased risk of low birth weight, the study found that the rate of decline is slow and is only about one percentage point per year.