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Pregnant women "ignoring warnings"

A new study shows that some pregnant women are turning to alcohol and cigarettes to help them cope with stress, despite the risks associated with smoking and drinking.

The survey carried out by the charity Tommy's shows that 5% of women who are expecting a child smoke, while 4% drink alcohol if they feel tense.

Tommy's extrapolated the figures to find that mothers-to-be smoking in pregnancy account for 32,900 babies in the UK every year, and those who drink account for 25,200 newborns.

Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's, said: "Smoking or drinking to excess should never be seen as viable solutions to dealing with stress in pregnancy. The harmful effects of both actions have been well documented."

Andrew Shennan, professor of obstetrics for Tommy's, added: "Although the full effects of maternal stress on an unborn child are unknown, research has already proved that pregnant women who experience heightened levels of stress for a prolonged period are at greater risk of complications such as miscarriage and premature delivery. 

"It is therefore imperative that pregnant women have access to as much information as they possibly can to take the steps necessary to reduce their stress levels.  

"Instead of turning to cigarettes or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, these measures can sometimes be as simple as talking through whatever issues are causing concern, or seeking out additional information on the subject."

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