Photo:  Longreach Hospital midwives Peace TeKani – left – and Jane Tapper with the carbon monoxide screening Smokerlyzer.

Carbon monoxide screening equipment is being introduced in the Longreach Hospital Maternity Unit to support a state-wide healthy pregnancy pilot program.

Central West Health Maternal and Child Health Services Manager Deirdre Murphy said the Get Healthy in Pregnancy program was a free, confidential information and telephone coaching program for Queensland women over the age of 16 who were planning a pregnancy were currently pregnant or had recently given birth.

“The program supports you to achieve a healthier lifestyle when pregnant and focuses on reducing the risk factors for developing chronic conditions which include, smoking, poor nutrition exercise and alcohol intakes,’’ Ms Murphy said.

“It is designed to support the pregnant woman in achieving a healthy weight by eating healthier and staying active.

“We can also help you quit smoking through the state-wide QUIT program, which is where the carbon monoxide screening equipment comes in.’’

Ms Murphy said the new carbon monoxide screening equipment would deliver instant screening and, with the support of the state-wide QUIT smoking program, results could be seen rapidly.

“This will give the pregnant woman the incentive of achievement if the carbon monoxide is from cigarette smoke,’’ she said.

“Carbon monoxide is a gas you can’t see, smell or taste.

“Small amounts of carbon monoxide are normally found in our bodies and in the air we breathe.

“But large amounts of carbon monoxide can be released by breathing in smoke from cigarettes, from car exhausts and from faulty or poorly ventilated cooking or heating appliances.

“The gas can cross the placenta and get into a baby’s blood and prevent oxygen from reaching the baby.

“Some studies have shown that exposure to small amounts of carbon monoxide over a long period of time may cause low birth weight or problems with brain development, that’s why it is important to screen for it.’’

Ms Murphy said carbon monoxide screening was a very simple test.

“It’s very similar to equipment used in roadside random breath tests and measures the level of carbon monoxide in your breath,’’ she said.

“You simply breathe into the straw and evaluation data pops up on the screen, so it’s very quick and non-invasive.

“Any women planning a pregnancy or in the early stages should consider getting the free help and support they need to quit smoking – there is so much support out there available.

“As well as QUIT smoking, a wide range of services are available through the Get Healthy in Pregnancy program to assist before and after baby comes along. There is so much support out there for you.

“You can even contact the Longreach Hospital Maternity Unit and set up a pre-conception discussion with a midwife – they will be so pleased to help you achieve great health in pregnancy.’’

Ms Murphy said the Get Healthy in Pregnancy pilot program was designed to complement the Central West healthy lifestyles program coordinated by Lauren Walker and was a collaboration between the healthy lifestyles program, midwives, general practitioners, social worker, dietitian and diabetes nurse educator.