ONE in five pregnant women in Wigan are still smoking up to the birth.
The shocking figures released by the NHS Information Centre show that the borough’s mums are some of the worst in the country for smoking while pregnant.
In the last year, 19.2 per cent of mothers giving birth were still smoking up to delivery – above the North West average of 16.9 per cent and the national average of just 13.4 per cent.
Whilst the figures are slightly down from last year (19.9 per cent) Wigan still has a huge problem with smoking during pregnancy.
In the study, towns were also given a classification with Wigan falling under the ‘Manufacturing Town’ heading. The figure of 19.2 per cent is also just above the Manufacturing Town average of 19.1 per cent.
Dr Kate Ardern, director of public health AWL PCT, said: “The evidence that smoking is harmful to both the pregnant woman and the unborn child is irrefutable. Unfortunately, most pregnant smokers become addicted to nicotine whilst they themselves are still children.
“To reduce the number of pregnant women who smoke requires a two-pronged strategy of reducing the numbers of our children who take up smoking in the first place and providing ongoing support for smokers who wish to quit.
“We have been aware that for some years the take up of smoking by girls is high, and consequently relatively high numbers of women who become pregnant are smokers. We do have a specialist Stop Smoking in Pregnancy Team who target all pregnant women known to be smokers and provide intensive support to help them to quit smoking.
“This year we will be assessing the carbon monoxide levels of all mothers-to-be and their unborn children via a type of breathalyser when they first book into the maternity service. At every subsequent visit women will be asked about smoking, given advice and access to the specialist team.
“Reducing smoking for people of all ages remains a high priority for Wigan’s Health and Wellbeing Board.”