SHOCKING figures reveal hundreds of Wigan mums-to-be are continuing to endanger their unborn children by lighting up while pregnant.
Some 16.7 per cent of women are still smoking at the time of pregnancy, dropping just 0.1 per cent from last year, sparking an urgent warning from health chiefs.
Stopping smoking has many benefits for your baby. It will reduce the risk of your baby being born too early or being too small, both of which can cause problems during and after labour, including problems with breathing and feedingDr Paul Turner
Doctors say the effects of using cigarettes while pregnant include miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and stillbirth.
Calls are now being made to urge these people to seek help as soon as possible.
Dr Paul Turner, consultant in Public Health for Wigan Council said: “We are pleased that there has been a fall in the proportion of women smoking during pregnancy within the borough, from around 20 per cent in 2011 to 16.7 per cent now.
“However, we want this to fall much further as the contents of tobacco smoke can be very harmful to an unborn baby.
“I appreciate that giving up smoking can be very difficult.
“For this reason we commission a health improvement service, Healthy Routes Wigan, that can assist with this as well as provide other services to improve health.
“In addition, you can get advice from your GP or midwife.
“Stopping smoking has many benefits for your baby. It will reduce the risk of your baby being born too early or being too small, both of which can cause problems during and after labour, including problems with breathing and feeding.
“It also reduces the risk of suffering a stillbirth that can be absolutely devastating. Finally, stopping smoking reduces the risk of a cot death (sudden infant death) during the first year of life of your baby.”
Wigan had the third highest figure in Greater Manchester behind Tameside, Glossop and North Manchester.
Borough health chiefs say pregnant women who smoke will be offered an opportunity to access support.
They also say midwives are trained to level two (smoking cessation), which includes carbon monoxide monitoring and that there is now a requirement to also ensure that partners of pregnant women are also systematically offered support.
For more information about Healthy Routes Wigan is available at www.healthyrouteswigan.co.uk or, by phone, at 01942 489012.