This site is intended for health professionals only

Northern women 'more likely' to smoke while giving birth

Pregnant women in the North-East are three times more likely to be smokers at the time of giving birth than women in London, according to official NHS data.

Statistics from the NHS Information Centre shows one in eight (13.4%) women in England are smokers when giving birth.

This figure represents a drop from 15.1% recorded in 2006/07.

The provisional quarterly report Statistics on Women's Smoking Status at Time of Delivery: England, Quarter 3, 2011/12 claims there was a “considerably higher” proportion of pregnant women smoking in the north of England when compared to SHAs in the southern regions.

One in five (20.2%) of women covered by the North East SHA said they smoked at the time of birth - the highest proportion in England.

This is compared to reports from the London SHA, whereby only one in sixteen pregnant women smoked at the time of delivery - the lowest in England.

Blackpool primary care trust (PCT) holds the highest percentage of women who were smokers at the time of delivery, at 30.3%.

Yet, Brent PCT had the smallest proportion of women who smoked at the time of delivery - 2.8%.

“The statistics we have published today highlight stark regional variation in the proportion of women smoking at the time of giving birth,” said Tim Straughan, Chief Executive of the NHS Information Centre.

“They will be of considerable interest to those responsible for promoting good health during and after pregnancy.”

He added smoking can cause a range of serious problems including: lower birth weight, pre-term birth, placental complications and perinatal mortality.

"Smoking in pregnancy is risky for both mothers and their babies. We want to reduce rates of smoking throughout pregnancy,” a spokesperson for the DH told NiP in a statement.

"We are on track to achieve this and NHS doctors, nurses and midwives are working hard to tackle smoking. We are also giving councils the power and a ringfenced budget to tackle these issues locally.”

Question: What are the best ways to encourage pregnant women to give up smoking?