Smokers still putting unborn babies at risk

Doctors say more needs to be done to persuade pregnant women to give up smoking
Doctors say more needs to be done to persuade pregnant women to give up smoking
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Health chiefs have called for government action to halve rates of smoking in pregnancy after citing Blackpool as having the highest rate of mums-to-be who smoke.

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group is calling for the gap to be narrowed in smoking rates between the rich and the poor.

While the national average is 11 per cent, in Blackpool it is 27.2 per cent, as reported by The Gazette in June when the figures first emerged.

That is an improvement compared to 2012 when the figure was 33 per cent.

However only 2.1 per cent of women in Westminster, one of the wealthiest parts of London, were still smoking by the time their baby was born.

The group wants the Government to set a new national ambition to reduce smoking in pregnancy to less than six per cent by 2020.

It also calling for more robust data collection, mandatory training for health professionals and automatic referral for pregnant smokers to specialist services unless they opt out.

Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (Rcog), said: “We see first-hand the devastating effects of miscarriage, premature births and stillbirths caused by smoking in pregnancy.

“Stopping smoking is the most important thing a pregnant woman can do to improve her baby’s health, growth and development and reduce unnecessary pregnancy complications.”

Health chiefs in Blackpool say they are trying to tackle the issue.

Coun Eddie Collett, cabinet member for health inequalities told The Gazette: “We are working with our local communities to understand why women smoke during pregnancy and what we can do to support and influence them to stop.

“Access to specialist stop smoking service support has been improved by ensuring close links between maternity services and support services.”