Pregnant woman not smoking

NHS help 15,000 pregnant women quit smoking as national rates plummet

The latest statistics show that midwives and other NHS staff have helped almost 15,000 expectant mothers quit smoking in the last three years.

The smoking rate for pregnant women at the time of birth has dropped from 10.6% from when the NHS rolled out its Long Term Plan in 2019, to 9.1% in 2021/22.

Smoking during pregnancy carries serious health risks – carbon monoxide present in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the placenta and the baby, which can lead to premature births, thus increasing the chances of miscarriages, stillbirth, and sudden infant death.

In view of putting a stop to this, all women are now offered electronic checks to test their exposure to carbon monoxide, following the launch of the Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle.

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer for England, said: “NHS maternity staff across England are working tirelessly to help mothers to give up smoking ensuring their babies get the very best start in life.

“Smoking can have devastating health implications for a mum and her baby, including increasing the risks of going into labour early, as well as an increased chance of miscarriage and stillbirth. This is why the support which thousands of mothers have already taken up to become smoke free is so vitally important.

“From classes to help you stop to nicotine replacement therapy, the NHS Long Term Plan is rolling out action to help pregnant smokers quit, helping families lead healthier lives and crucially, cutting the risk of stillbirth, saving babies lives.”

The NHS spends around £2.5bn on treating health issues caused by smoking every single year. The NHS has already pledged an additional £127m for maternity services across England over the course of the next year, with the aim of providing safer and more tailored care for women and their babies.

The NHS is also accelerating action to reduce stillbirth, maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, and serious brain injury by half, by 2025.

Kerry Bird, Stop Smoking in Pregnancy Champion and Advisor, Your Health Service at Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Working in the maternity department has shown to significantly help reduce the Smoking at Time of Delivery rates in the local area. The one-to-one support we provide to every mum and partner that comes to the clinic helps to build rapport and reassures them that we are there to support them to quit smoking.

“We hold weekly conversations to help people steadily learn the risks of continuing to smoke whilst pregnant and beyond. The benefit of this is that we have more people who are quitting smoking with our support, which reduces risk in their pregnancy and delivery.”

More information about what the NHS is doing to eradicate smoking and information on support to help quit smoking is available here.

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