Pregnant smokers on the rise

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 June 2016

Smoking while pregnant can harm babies.

Smoking while pregnant can harm babies.

(c) Ian Sanderson

Hundreds of new mothers are in danger of ‘serious illness’ and stillbirth by smoking right up until they give birth, new hospital records have revealed.

Smoking graphicSmoking graphic

Despite well-publicised evidence from the NHS that smoking during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, staff in North Somerset found more than one in eight new mothers was still smoking at the time of delivery last year.

Freely available guidance from the health service warns soon-to-be parents that smoking ‘can restrict essential oxygen supply’ to babies in the womb, as well as causing a higher risk of complications during pregnancy and premature births. It states stopping ‘even in the last few weeks’ can help.

But these are warnings which were not heeded by 271 birth mothers across North Somerset from April 2015-2016, as the proportion of women who were still smoking at the end of their pregnancy rose to its highest level since 2007, hitting 12.4 per cent.

It now easily exceeds the level across England, which has fallen to 10.6 per cent, down from 17 per cent in 2005.

A spokesman for NHS England told the Mercury there was support available across the district to help people who wanted to give up as a result of falling pregnant.

They added people would be asked about smoking during their pregnancy by healthcare professionals involved in the birth.

They said: “Smoking in pregnancy puts babies at higher risk of many complications like being born at a low weight, suffering from asthma or contracting infections or other serious illnesses that require hospital treatment. It can also risk a more complicated delivery or even stillbirth.

“Giving up smoking will provide immediate and long-term health benefits for both mum and baby.

“Support is available before and throughout pregnancy to help women to stop smoking. Midwives, GPs and health visitors will routinely ask about smoking and help access specialist stop smoking support.

“People are up to four times more likely to successfully give up smoking with the help of the stop smoking service.”

Visit www.smokefreenorthsomerset.co.uk for more details or call 01275 546744 or text 07800 001316 for free advice.

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