Just one in six clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are meeting that national target for lowering the number of mothers smoking at the time of birth, a report by NHS Digital has found.
While the ambition is for fewer than 6% of mothers to be smoking, the report found smoking prevalence was 17 times higher in some CCGs. Additionally, only 34 out of 207 CCGs met the new 6% or less target.
‘What is needed is retention of local authority funding for family based smoking cessation to include pregnant women,’ said director of midwifery at Royal College of Midwifery, Louise Silverton. ‘We know that women in poverty are more likely to smoke, so extra help and support needs to be given.’
The CCGs with the lowest proportion of smoking mothers were NHS Wokingham (1.6%), NHS Camden (2.4%), and NHS Hammersmith and Fulham (2.4%). Those with the highest were NHS Blackpool (27.8%), NHS South Kent Coast (23.1%) and NHS South Tyneside (21.7%). In June 2016, the number of women smoking at the time of birth fell to 10%, but at that time the target was set at 11%.
‘Health providers should ensure there are enough midwives with the time to offer women support, advice and referral to smoking cessation services,’ added Ms Silverton. ‘Continuity of carer is also important, so that midwives can develop a trusting relationship with women, which is critical if women are to feel comfortable in talking about issues such as this.’
Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy and birth, reduce the risk of stillbirth, reduce the risk of premature birth, can avoid child breathing, feeding and health problems, and reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
‘Carbon monoxide and chemicals will clear from the body and oxygen levels will return to normal. If you really feel you can’t give up completely, cutting down the amount you smoke during pregnancy will help to reduce the risk to your baby,’ Elizabeth Duff, senior policy advisor at the National Childbirth Trust, told the Huffington Post UK.
Ms Duff has also urged women to ask their midwives for available help to stop smoking while pregnant as yesterday, 14 March 2018, was National No Smoking Day.