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Proportion of women still smoking at the time of delivery is rising, according to Whittington Hospital figures

09:00 16 May 2014

The number of pregnant women still smoking has increased, according to the Whittington Hospital

The number of pregnant women still smoking has increased, according to the Whittington Hospital

PA Wire/Press Association Images

»The proportion of women who continue to smoke while pregnant in Islington has increased, new figures reveal.

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Almost 6.5 per cent of mothers who gave birth at the Whittington Hospital in March admitted they still smoked at the time of delivery – the highest rate in nine months.

In February the rate was 5.1 per cent and in January it was 3.5 per cent, which were both below the Government target of six per cent.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause a range of serious health problems, including lower birth weight, pre-term birth, placental complications and perinatal mortality.

Separate data from the 
Social Care Information Centre also shows that 40 women in Islington were still smoking at the time of delivery between July and September last year, which was a slight improvement on the three months previous but still above the London average.

Improvements

Reducing smoking during pregnancy is one of the three ambitions of the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan which aims to cut the rates of smoking to 11 per cent 
nationally.

At the moment the rate of pregnant women still smoking is 12 per cent.

Head of midwifery at the Whittington, Jenny Cleary, said while there had been improvements seen over the years, there was more work to be done.

“Stopping smoking is one of the single biggest things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life, with multiple benefits for both mother and baby,” she said. “Smoking while pregnant is also a major source of carbon monoxide, which can significantly increase the risk of infant mortality.

“We are proactively trying to reduce maternal smoking and our midwives are able to offer non-judgmental advice, extra help and support to mothers-to-be to stop smoking.

“Over the past few years we have seen an improvement in women smoking while pregnant. However, more needs be done and we will be looking at new measures to support this, including closer working with the Stop Smoking services and the introduction of carbon monoxide monitoring, which would trigger a referral to the Stop Smoking service.”

A public health spokesman from Islington Council said: “Tackling high levels of health inequality is a priority for Islington public health and smoking is a key component of this.”

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