Colchester/Tendring: Nearly one-in-seven expectant mothers smoke during their pregnancies

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- Credit: PA

NEARLY one-in-seven expectant mothers in north-east Essex smoked during their pregnancy, it has emerged.

Figures show 14.9% of women smoked between July and September last year, up from 14.3% the previous quarter.

North East Essex PCT called the statistics “fantastic” - it said three years ago the percentage of expectant mothers smoking sat at 22.5.

But the percentage for Colchester and Tendring is still higher than the regional (12.5%) and national (12.7%) figure for the same period.

The Department of Health’s target is to reduce the percentage of expectant mothers smoking to 11% by 2015.


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Smoking through pregnancy can cause significant harm to the baby, including an increased risk of miscarriage. There is risk the baby may be born underweight and be treated at special care baby units. There is also an increase in the probability of birth defects such as clef palate and glue ear. Cot death is also a risk.

Sarah Leach, stop smoking advisor for North East Essex PCT, reacting to the figures, said: “I think it’s fantastic news, because three years ago we were sitting on 22.5%.

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“Personally I would not put too much emphasis on where you at, at a particular quarter, we do get fluctuations.”

Meanwhile there were 128 pregnant women in north-east Essex who set a date to quit smoking between July and September last year. The NHS said, of these, 88 successfully gave up. However just 24 of those who quit were confirmed by a carbon monoxide test.

Ms Leach added: “Your metabolism is different when you’re pregnant and so you metabolise nicotine quicker so you need to replace it quicker.

“In your head you’re saying you want to stop but your body can be telling you to smoke more. You may need more than when you were not pregnant.

“On top of that you’ve got the world and his wife judging you about it.

“It can be quite a secret thing.”

A spokesman for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: “Reducing rates of smoking in pregnancy is one of the government’s top health priorities but it wont be easy, especially for young mums where smoking rates are highest.

“Nearly 6 out of 10 pregnant teenagers are smokers and around one in three will manage to quit by the time the baby is born but older (and better off) mums are around twice as likely to quit.

“It isn’t a case of blaming young mothers, we know poorer smokers are just as likely to want to quit. They are just less successful to quit successfully, perhaps because, in the communities where they live, they don’t get the same kind of social support to quit.”

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