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One in 10 pregnant women are smokers at time of labour

Around 11% of pregnant women were known to be smokers at the time of delivery in 2018-19, new figures have revealed. 

The data from NHS Digital shows that 61,399 (10.6%) mothers-to-be were still smoking at the time they gave birth last year.

In some areas - including Blackpool, Corby, Durham and Mansfield – more than one in five pregnant women were still smokers. 

The current national ambition for maternity smoking is 6% or less by 2022, a target met by just 28 out of 195 CCGs. 

Although the rate of maternity smoking is down from 91,123 women (14.6%) a decade ago, this decline has slowed and the latest figures are similar to those recorded in 2017-18. 

The NHS has warned that women who smoke during pregnancy are putting themselves and their baby at risk of serious harm. 

As well as being a lead cause of cancer, smoking during pregnancy can cause death for babies and complications in adulthood as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning,  

Overall, the number of adult cigarette smokers in England has dropped from 7.7 million (19.8%) in 2011 to 5.9 million (14.4%) in 2018. This is also above the national ambition of 12% or less. 

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer for England, said: ‘No woman should have to experience the heartbreak of stillbirth, and quitting smoking is absolutely vital for a healthy mum and a healthy baby.  

‘The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a programme of measures including stop smoking classes for all pregnant women, which will make giving birth even safer, and build on progress in NHS care which has helped reduce stillbirths by 20%.’