Smoking During Pregnancy Drops To Record Low

The number of women smoking during pregnancy across England has fallen to a record low.

Latest figures show just 12 per cent of pregnant women smoked last year, a fall of 16 per cent since rates of smoking during pregnancy were first measured in 2006-7.

But rates vary wildly across the country, with far more pregnant women smoking in some areas than others.

Blackpool is home to the highest rate of smoking mums-to-be, with 27.5 per cent of all pregnant women in the area smoking during their pregnancy.

The second highest rate was found in South Tyneside where 25 per cent of pregnant women smoked, while in South Tees the rate is 23.9 per cent.

Other areas with high smoking rates are Mansfield and Ashfield, Barnsley, Telford and Wrekin, Durham Dales, Easignton and Sedgefield, Doncaster, North East Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire East.

However, central London and Richmond had the lowest rate of just 1.9 per cent.

Smoking during pregnancy rates across the UK:

The government has set a target to reduce the rate of women smoking during pregnancy to 11 per cent or less by 2015.

According to the data collected by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 61 per cent of local health areas have not yet met this target, but rates are showing a steady downward trend with fewer pregnant women smoking each year.

"It is encouraging to see that since 2006-07 the number of pregnant women who smoked during pregnancy has declined," said HSCIC chairman Kingsley Manning.

"However, there is still a little way to go to achieve the national ambition. Today's figures highlight there is a still work to be done and it is fundamental that mothers-to-be are aware of the damaging effects smoking can have on their baby."

Smoking while pregnant can damage babies' hearts and increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth.

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