Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pregnant Women Still Risk the Lives of Their Babies; New Figures Show Almost One-in-Four Women in the North East Smoke While Pregnant. Health Reporter HELEN RAE Reports

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pregnant Women Still Risk the Lives of Their Babies; New Figures Show Almost One-in-Four Women in the North East Smoke While Pregnant. Health Reporter HELEN RAE Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN RAE

A SHOCK report reveals pregnant women in the region are much more likely to smoke than those in the South.

Illustrating the link between smoking-related diseases and England's poorest communities, a survey by the Association of Public Health Observatories found that 23% of women in the North East smoked while they were pregnant in 2008/09, compared with 4% in Richmond, Surrey.

The worst affected areas in the region included South Tyneside, County Durham and Sunderland.

Martyn Willmore, performance improvement delivery manager at Fresh North East, said: "The statistics do not surprise me as this is an issue that must be addressed.

"It reflects the higher smoking rates among women compared to men - up to 23% of women in the North East smoke and 17% of men.

"Midwives play an important role in helping drive down smoking rates in pregnancy and we need to ensure they're educating women about the dangers smoking poses to their unborn child and that they are pushing the 'stop smoking' message.

We also need to ensure pregnant women are given the appropriate help and support through our stop smoking services."

Overall, nearly 15% of women who gave birth across England in the same period said they smoked.

Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a variety of health problems including premature birth, low birth weight, cot death, childhood asthma, miscarriage and breathing problems in the first six months of life. Kerry Lynch, public health specialist at NHS North of Tyne, said: "Work is ongoing with our partners in maternity services and stop smoking services to help pregnant women quit smoking and we have free specialist support from our stop smoking pregnancy specialists.

"When a pregnant woman smokes, the baby is subjected to the same effects and the same harmful chemicals.

"Breathing in other people's smoke can also have implications."

A spokeswoman for NHS South of Tyne said: "We are very concerned about levels of smoking among pregnant women.

"Unfortunately, we have high levels of smoking in the general population and this is reflected among pregnant women. …

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