Hundreds still smoking while pregnant

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HUNDREDS of Wigan mums-to-be are still putting their tobacco habit ahead of their unborn children’s health each year, shaming figures reveal today.

While the figures have fallen over the last decade, the borough is still in the country’s top third for the number of women who smoke during pregnancy.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows that that Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust ranked 44th out of 147 authorities, with a total of 16.8 per cent of women lighting up while carrying a child in 2012/13.

But, while the numbers are higher than the regional and national averages of 16.4 per cent and 12.7 per cent respectively, there has been a significant decline, as at its peak in 2004/05, 21 per cent of expectant mothers were smokers.

Across England as a whole, the report showed that there has been a steady fall in the number of women who smoke during pregnancy since 2006.

Public health services in Wigan are now working to help mums-to-be to kick the habit through its Smoking in Pregnancy Specialist Services.

Dr Paul Turner, consultant in public health, at Wigan Council, said: “Over the last 10 years we have witnessed a significant decline in the number of expectant mothers smoking in the North West. In Wigan borough, there has been a drop from 20.7 per cent of mothers smoking at time of delivery in 2007/08 to the present level of 16.8 per cent.

“While this is positive news, we’d like to see that number fall to zero as smoking while pregnant puts unborn babies at increased risk of premature birth and miscarriage.

“It also increases the risk of a child dying within the first year of life.

“In Wigan borough, we have a Smoking in Pregnancy Specialist Service, which provides specialist support to pregnant smokers.

“This is a very successful service and in the past year has supported 252 pregnant smokers of whom 146 successfully quit smoking.

“We regularly promote the dangers associated with smoking, as demonstrated in our support of the government’s recent smoke free car campaign.”

The local Stop Smoking Service is available by calling 0500 7867 669 for free or visit www.bridgewater.nhs.uk/stopsmoking.

Further information in smoking during pregnancy is available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/smoking-pregnant.aspx