Pregnant mums-to-be: shock figures revealed

Matron Freya Oliver and midwife Debby Chute.
Matron Freya Oliver and midwife Debby Chute.

Almost one-in-five women in Scarborough smoked throughout the full term of their pregnancy, new figures have revealed.

The latest statistics published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that in 2015-16, as many as 19 per cent of women giving birth in Scarborough smoked.

According to the NHS, the risks of smoking during pregnancy range from premature delivery to increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or sudden infant death.

In Yorkshire as a whole the figure was 14.5 per cent. That figure amounted to 9,071 of the 62,735 pregnancies during the period. Across the region, there were vast differences in the number of women who smoked at the time they gave birth.

The lowest prevalence was in Leeds North, where 6.6 per cent of women giving birth were smokers.

The data also compared smoking rates to the previous year, and found the biggest improvement to be in Doncaster, where rates had dropped 7.6 per cent compared to 2014/15.

There, the percentage of women smoking when they gave birth stood slightly 
below the Yorkshire average at 12.9 per cent.

The highest increases were seen in two North Yorkshire areas, Harrogate and Rural District, and Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby, which recorded 4.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent increases 

Both, though, fell slightly below the Yorkshire averages, at 12.2 per cent and 14.1 per cent – despite the high increases year on year.

A spokesperson for the North Yorkshire Public Health Team said it had been working hard with partners to reduce rates across the county, especially in Scarborough and Ryedale where smoking at time of delivery rates are highest. She added: “We are concerned about the increase of 4.1 per cent between last year and this in Harrogate and Rural district. However, despite this increase the prevalence remains the lowest across the county.”

In order to tackle the issue, a campaign was launched in March by NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group.

To help encourage pregnant women to kick the habit, community midwives in Scarborough have been given special training to educate women of the risks as well as using computer software to visualise the harmful effects that smoking is having on their baby.

Dr Peter Billingsley, local GP and lead for the campaign, said the project is being implemented now, but the outcomes, in terms of whether or not it has been a success, won’t be known for around six months. Michala Little, community midwifery manager for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The community midwives at Scarborough are passionate about supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy.

“Using unique software that gives a visual representation of CO levels in the baby’s blood, pregnant smokers are encouraged to learn more about the effects of smoking while pregnant and are 
referred for specialist support to quit.”

Following the intervention by the midwife, the pregnant woman is offered a referral to the stop smoking service, which is now provided by Smoke Free Life North Yorkshire.

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