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Pregnancy smoking targets "unrealistic and unreliable'

National targets to reduce the number of women who smoke while pregnant are unreliable and unrealistic as they are based on unrealistic data, says a midwife in the British Medical Journal.

The initial target was to reduce smoking in pregnancy from 23% in 1995 to 18% by 2005 and 15% by 2010.

An additional requirement is to reduce the number of mothers who smoke at delivery by 1% every year, specifically focusing on disadvantaged women.

However, according to Department of Health figures, only a quarter of primary care trusts achieved this target in 2005-7.

Carmel O'Gorman a midwife is concerned by how realistic this target is and whether it is achievable within the required timescale.

To provide a more timely and regional breakdown of the number of mothers smoking at delivery, she believs that maternity services should collect data on smoking themselves.

Unreliable and unrealistic targets, she says, can be demotivating and cause needless stress.

Collecting quality data isn't just about meeting targets, she adds, it's key to knowing whether interventions are improving public health.