Shock report reveals scale of smoking in pregnancy

The scale of smoking during pregnancy has been revealed
The scale of smoking during pregnancy has been revealed

And some women in Kirklees are continuing the habit in order to keep their baby’s weight low for an easier birth, according to Nicky Hoyle, a consultant in public health for the Kirklees area.

The annual report says that infant deaths are reducing across Kirklees – but numbers remain high in Dewsbury.

These high levels of infant deaths reflect levels of smoking in pregnancy and the proportion of congenital abnormalities due to genetic closeness of some parents.

The report showed 32 per cent of white women carried on smoking during pregnancy.

Nationally the figure is around 12 per cent.

Ms Hoyle said some women had revealed in an earlier survey of attitudes two years ago that having a low birth weight baby could be considered to be a good thing.

They told researchers that they did not see having a low birth weight baby as a problem as it “can be perceived as something to desire as it’s easier to deliver”.

Ms Hoyle said it was not known why the figures for smoking in pregnancy were quite so high for Dewsbury, although it was recognised that smoking was an addiction and becoming pregnant was a stressful and life-changing period.

The report says: “Smoking during pregnancy significantly influenced the health of the unborn child, including contributing to low birth weight and can increase the risk of asthma in childhood four to six times.”

Health officials are working to reduce smoking during pregnancy and there is specialist stop-smoking help available.

The report concludes: “Smoking remains stubbornly high in people on low incomes and women, with women and older people being least likely to want to give up.”