A quarter of pregnant women in South Tyneside smoke up to birth

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A QUARTER of mums-to-be in South Tyneside are still smoking at the time they give birth – more than twice the national average.

The figure is the highest of any local authority in the North East and in the top five areas in the country for women taking such health risks.

These are disappointing figures.

Coun Moira Smith, the council’s lead member for health and wellbeing

The latest data released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre for the period April 2014 to March 2015, show that 25.9 % of the borough’s mums were smoking while pregnant, compared with the English average of 11.4 %.

This is also an increase on the previous financial year’s 24.2%. During this time 1,556 South Tyneside women fell pregnant and, of those, 403 continued to smoke.

Coun Moira Smith, the council’s lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “These are disappointing figures. We know that smoking in pregnancy can lead to stillbirth, birth complications, low birth weight babies, cot death and respiratory illness later in life.

“It is crucial that we continue our efforts to encourage many more mums-to-be in South Tyneside to quit smoking so that children have a good start in life.

“We know that our Stop Smoking services in South Tyneside – such as Change4Life and babyClear, whereby midwives are trained to give specific messages to pregnant women in relation to their smoking – are highly effective at helping pregnant women to quit.”

Lisa Surtees, acting director of Fresh, said: “While fewer unborn babies are being exposed to tobacco smoke across the North East, these figures highlight the continued need for supporting pregnant women who smoke on South Tyneside to quit – for the sake of their own and their babies’ health.”

Details about the help and support available can be found at www.change4lifesouthtyneside.co.uk.