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Smoking during pregnancy at new low

The number of pregnant smokers has dropped to the lowest recorded level in England, the latest figures show. 

Just 12% of women smoked during pregnancy, the figures for 2013/14 show. 

However, there was wide regional variation, with just 5% of pregnant women smoking in London, compared to 21% in Durham. 

Since 2006/07 the number of women who smoked while pregnant fell by 16%, and overall maternities have increased by 5%, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) figures show. 

Government targets to reduce rates of smoking throughout pregnancy to lower than 11% by 2015 have not yet been reached. 

Around 40% of local authority areas have yet to reach the target. 

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: “It is encouraging to see that since 2006-07 the number of pregnant women who smoked during pregnancy has declined. However, there is still a little way to go to achieve the national ambition.

“Today's figures highlight there is a still work to be done and it is fundamental that mothers-to-be are aware of the damaging effects smoking can have on their baby.”