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Health chief defends Chrissie Swan

A NSW health chief has joined thousands of women defending Chrissie Swan for smoking while pregnant.

Denele Crozier, the executive officer of Women's Health NSW, said: "Thousands of women smoked throughout their pregnancies during the sixties and seventies and yet still managed to produce a generation which is as healthy as any other."

She added: "When a woman is pregnant, the whole community thinks they have the right to tell you how to live your life."

A tearful Chrissie confessed during her MIX FM radio show yesterday to having "struggled terribly with totally giving up cigarettes", a "shameful secret " she'd been keeping from everyone including her husband Chris until she was snapped having a "sneaky cigarette" by paparazzi.

The messages of support started immediately flowing for Chrissie. Anne-Margaret commented on the iVillage Facebook page: "I just wanted to give her a big hug this morning when I heard it on the radio." While Lucy said: "Who hasn't had a glass of wine or any of the other things we are told not to eat or drink while pregnant. I know I did and my kids are perfectly fine, happy and healthy."

Crozier said there there were many other threats to unborn babies and fertility that people should be aware of, such as "women – including pregnant women – using everyday cleaning products which contain potentially harmful chemicals."

"We also know that pregnancy is a trigger for domestic violence which puts the unborn child and the mother in danger but nobody talks about that," she explained. "For some reason, smoking is the thing that everyone focuses on."

Unsurprising, since statistics suggest one in seven Australian women smoke during pregnancy, despite it being linked to low birth weight, premature birth, respiratory illness and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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