One in eight women smoke in pregnancy

MORE than one in eight women in Suffolk are putting their babies at risk by smoking during pregnancy.

Rebecca Lefort

MORE than one in eight women in Suffolk are putting their babies at risk by smoking during pregnancy.

Data shows that 13.7% of women in the county admit to being smokers at the time of delivery.

Smoking in pregnancy can cause serious harm, with 80% more carbon monoxide poison passed through the placenta to the baby than to the mother.

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There is a higher risk that more babies from smoking mothers may be born underweight and need to go to special care baby units, and more have birth defects, such as cleft palate and glue ear.

Smoking during pregnancy also increases the risk of miscarriage.

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Jeff Keighley, deputy co-ordinator and pregnancy lead for the Suffolk Stop Smoking Service, said many women did not understand the risks to their babies if they continued to smoke during pregnancy.

However he added that health bosses were determined to help more women quit.

“There is a perception from women that they can't quit, and although most of them try they may fail,” he said.

“Some of them still smoke because they are more developed smokers and have a high demand for it.

“Another reason might be because their partner smokes or their whole family smokes.

“It also might be that their background and their values about smoking are different.”

In Suffolk 17.2% of the total population smoke.

NHS Suffolk has been told to make sure 15% or fewer women smoke at the time of their delivery by 2010 - a target it is already reaching.

But the organisation, which plans and buys health services in the county, wants to reduce the figure even more.

It is planning on expanding the HERS (health enhancement reward scheme) scheme, which offers pregnant women time with specialist stop smoking advisors.

They can also gain rewards as they stay smoke-free, and may spend the rewards in a number of ways, such as haircuts or beauty treatments.

So far just �100 has been spent on the rewards, the incentive the mothers-to-be said would help them the most.

Currently the scheme only runs in Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds, but Mr Keighley said he hoped it would be extended county wide within four years.

For help giving up smoking call 0800 085 6037 or visit

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