Anti-smoking group Fresh has welcomed a new report highlighting the importance of midwives being trained to help tackle smoking in pregnancy.
It has been published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) on behalf of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group and launched in Parliament today and provides an analysis of the training that midwives and obstetricians receive to address smoking in pregnant women, and what further training is needed.
Smoking is a major cause of stillbirth and sudden infant death, and also leads to more babies being born with health problems and with a low birth weight.
Shocking figures released earlier this year showed that almost one in four (24.4%) pregnant mums on South Tyneside admitted smoking.
Smoking rates among pregnant women in the North East have fallen by almost a third from 22.2% in 2009/10 down to 16% in 2016.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “The work in the North East has already demonstrated the dramatic reduction the NHS can play by raising smoking as a serious issue, and either prescribing treatment or referring patients to stop smoking support.
“In the North East, we found women expected this issue to be raised by their health professional, and referrals to stop smoking support increased every time midwives received extra training in how to raise this issue and use CO monitors.
“It is vital that this is sustained across all localities in the North East and is part of routine clinical practise in all maternity services as it works, is highly cost effective and can save lives.”
The report also highlights that training of maternity staff is not enough on its own and that there needs to be co-ordination among local health services.