One in five women in the North East continue smoking through pregnancy to birth of child, shocking NHS figures reveal
Northern mothers three times more likely to be smokers than those in LondonNearly a third of women in Blackpool smoked through pregnancy
Figures are 'alarming', says Royal College of Midwives
The NHS study found a huge North/South divide when it came to women smoking while pregnant
One in five pregnant women in the North East smokes right up to the time their babies are born, shocking figures have revealed.
Mothers-to-be in the region are more than three times more likely to be smokers at the time they give birth as those in London, the statistics show.
Data from the NHS Information Centre revealed 20.2 per cent of women in the North East were smokers when they gave birth, compared with 6.1 per cent in London.
Across England, 13.4 per cent of women are smokers at the time of delivery, down from 15.1 per cent in 2006/07.
The percentages varied widely by
individual health trust, from 2.8 per cent in Brent, London, up to a
staggering 30.3 per cent in Blackpool.
The data showed smoking rates were 'considerably higher' in every northern strategic health authority than in the south.
The figures come after a TV programme that showed a mother admitting it was only hospital rules that stopped her lighting up as she gave birth.
Earlier this month One Born Every Minute – a reality television programme which shows selected footage detailing childbirth – showed 17-year-old Jessica as she went into labour at Leeds General Infirmary.
With cameras rolling at her bedside, the mother-to-be told friends that it was only hospital restrictions preventing her from having a cigarette.
NHS Information Centre chief
executive Tim Straughan said: 'Smoking can cause a range of serious
health problems, including lower birthweight, pre-term birth, placental
complications and perinatal mortality.
SMOKING: THE EFFECTS ON A BABY'S HEALTH
If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby:
Is at increased risk of stillbirth
likely to be born early (prematurely; before week 37 of the pregnancy),
which can cause feeding, breathing and health problems
Won’t cope as well with any birth complications
Is more likely to be born underweight. On average, babies of smokers are 200g (8oz) lighter than other babies
Is more likely to have a problem keeping warm
Is at increased risk of cot death
likely to get infections as a child, such as inflammation of the middle
ear, and have health conditions that require hospital treatment, such
Is more likely to smoke when they’re older
Source: The NHS
'The statistics we have published today highlight stark regional variation in the proportion of women smoking at the time of giving birth.
'They will be of considerable interest to those responsible for promoting good health during and after pregnancy.'
In Telford, Shropshire, 115 women out of the 551 who gave birth in the third quarter of last year smoked through their pregnancy.
The NHS figures statistics also show 86 smokers gave birth during the same period in the rest of the county out of a total of 627.
Each year 1million is spent across Shropshire and Telford warning women of the dangers of smoking while they are pregnant.
NHS Telford and Wrekin says its service to help people give up smoking was so successful last year it is facing a 400,000 overspend.
Between April 2010 and March 2011, 72 pregnant women in the Telford and Wrekin area being helped to quit at four weeks.
Professor Rod Thompson, the director of public health at the Shropshire County Primary Care Trust, said family and friends of pregnant women could help them kick the habit.
Dr Chris Weiner, Public Health consultant for NHS Telford and Wrekin, told the Shropshire Star: 'We have a specialised service to support pregnant women who want to stop smoking. The staff offer support via one-to-one sessions delivered anywhere to suit pregnant women, including in their own homes.'
Royal College of Midwives (RCM) deputy general secretary Louise Silverton said the figures were 'alarming'.
Public health minister Anne Milton said the regional discrepancies are 'unacceptable'
She said: 'The north-south divide revealed in these statistics highlights the gaping health inequalities in access to appropriate public health services.
'The RCM believes midwives play a vital role in promoting public health. Therefore, we urge all strategic health authorities and local authorities to invest in midwives to support smoking cessation programmes.
'We need more midwives to deliver the public health agenda and signpost parents to the most appropriate services.
'Nationally, we are campaigning for 5,000 more midwives.'
Public health minister Anne Milton said: 'The regional variation we are seeing here is unacceptable and we want to reduce rates of smoking throughout pregnancy across all areas of the country.
'NHS doctors, nurses and midwives are working hard with their local communities to tackle this. We are also giving councils the power and the budget to tackle issues like this locally.'
'THEY WON'T LET ME OUT FOR A CIGARETTE'
Viewers of One Born Every Minute were left outraged last night after a teenager revealed that she continued smoking during pregnancy.
Focusing on single parents, the reality show followed 17-year-old Jessica as she went into labour at Leeds General Infirmary.
With cameras rolling at her bedside, the mother-to-be told friends that it was only hospital restrictions stopping her from having a cigarette.
Jessica, 17, appeared in One Born Every Minute earlier this month
In one clip her boyfriend Nathaniel drinks from a can of Red Bull, as his sister Devinya asks: 'Have you been out for a cig and that'
To which heavily pregnant Jess replies: 'I’m not allowed.'
After the hour-long episode aired, a debate on Jess' smoking habit erupted on Facebook, attracting more than 1,300 comments.
Commenting on Channel 4's official fan page Catherine 'Patch' Roper said: 'It's not her age that matters though. I don't care if she's 17 or 71. Smoking in pregnancy is a disgusting selfish thing to do.'
While Aimee Eustace said: 'What a shame that young girl couldn't have made an effort to give up smoking, my son wasn't planned.
'I was 29 when I had him and had smoked since I was around 16 but hard as it was, I gave up for him.'
Rachel Stocker added: 'My own mum smoked throughout her pregnancy with me.
'I'd like to think she did a good job bringing me up (as a single mother) but the fact is I have health problems caused by her smoking during pregnancy and passive smoking when I was a baby/toddler.
'These health problems wouldn't necessarily manifest themselves when your child is young. You can't anticipate the effect smoking will have on your baby – and if there's any effect at all it's not exactly going to be a good one.'