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iHV supports ‘Smoking cessation in pregnancy: A call to action’ report:

12th July 2013


An exert from the report Introduction:  


Smoking during pregnancy causes up to 2,200 premature births, 5,000 miscarriages and 300 perinatal deaths every year in the UK. It also increases the risk of developing a number of respiratory conditions; attention and hyperactivity difficulties; learning difficulties; problems of the ear, nose and throat; obesity;  and diabetes 2.


As well as human costs, there are also financial ones. treating mothers and their babies (0-12 months) with problems caused by smoking during pregnancy is estimated to cost the NHS between £20 million and £87.5 million each year 12.


Given the damage that tobacco smoke can have on an unborn child, and the high associated costs to the NHS, it is critical that rates of smoking in pregnancy are reduced. Although rates are lower than in the past, over 12% of women in England are recorded as smoking at the time of delivery, which translates into over 83,000 infants born to smoking mothers each year. in some areas of England these rates are much higher: for example, in the north east, 20% of women are recorded as smoking at the time of delivery.


Smoking rates not only vary by region but also by age and social group: pregnant women from unskilled occupation groups are five times more likely to smoke than professionals, and teenagers in England are six times more likely to smoke than older mothers. Infants born to smokers are much more likely to become smokers themselves, which perpetuates cycles of health inequalities.

The government’s two priorities for public health are increasing healthy life expectancy and reducing inequalities in order to achieve this, giving every child the best start in life must be made a priority 16, and this must include protecting babies from the damage of tobacco smoke, both before and after birth. this is recognised by the government, which has selected smoking at the time of delivery as one of the key indicators of success in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (2013).


This report provides recommendations on how essential reductions in smoking in pregnancy can be achieved.


See full report at


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