A fresh warning has been put out to pregnant women to give up smoking after some of the highest rates in the region were recorded among expectant mothers in West Norfolk.
A total of 403 women who gave birth at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 2014 were recorded as being smokers.
This equates to 17 per cent and is in stark contrast with the 4 per cent recorded in Cambridge, according to new figures released by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group’s meeting on Tuesday last week.
Statistics released by Public Health England show that smoking causes up to 2,200 premature births, 5,000 miscarriages and 300 perinatal deaths every year in the UK.
Smoking is banned at the Gayton Road hospital and mothers are required to use a shelter.
Catherine Morgan, director of nursing, said staff offer help and advice to expectant mothers.
She said: “We discuss smoking cessation with all women who choose to divulge they smoke at the time of booking. We are able to offer them carbon monoxide monitoring and smoking cessation as a support package.
“We also discuss smoking with all expectant mothers and where they indicate there are other smokers in their household we advise accordingly.
“Compliance with smoking cessation can be variable but our midwives take a proactive role in cessation support whenever appropriate to do so.”
Figures released in papers to last week’s clinical commissioning group, which buys services for Wisbech residents at the QEH, have shown that the hospital has the highest rates.
This is followed by 15.2 percent at Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust and 10.3 per cent at Huntingdon.
Rosemary Dodds, senior policy adviser at the National Childbirth Trust, said: “We understand how hard it can be for some women to stop smoking and they may need the support of partners, family and friends to do so.
“As soon as a pregnant woman stops smoking, both she and her baby will be better off. Cigarettes restrict the essential oxygen supply to a baby and contain over 4,000 chemicals, so protecting babies from tobacco smoke is one of the best things mothers can do to give children a healthy start in life.”
Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health at Norfolk County Council, said: “With smoking, sadly there is a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, and babies are more likely to be born small. These problems can have life-long impacts. There are other health impacts for children too: sudden death, asthma and attention deficit disorder are more common. It’s also more common for children born to smokers to become smokers themselves which increases their disadvantage.”
For help to stop smoking, or advice on coping with quitting smoking, contact Smoke Free Norfolk via 0800 0854 113.