NHS statistics show slight drop in number of women who smoke at time of delivery

Recent NHS Digital statistics on smoking show that during 2018/19, 10.6% of pregnant women were known to smoke at the time of delivery.

Graphic of pregnant woman smoking

Pregnancy news, 24/07/2019

In the UK, the percentage of women recorded as smoking at the time of delivery for the year 2018/19 was 10.6%. This is a small drop of 0.2% from last year, and 4% since 2009. However, the current national target set by the government is aiming to reduce the rate of smoking in pregnancy to 6% or less by 2022. According to these recent statistics, only 28 out of 195 UK trusts are meeting this target.

The statistics also show geographical differences, ranging from 1.6% smoking at time of delivery in North West London, to 25.7% in Blackpool.  

‘We have set ourselves an ambitious new goal of reducing smoking amongst pregnant women to 6% by the end of 2022. This is critical to our drive to ensure children have the best start in life. We know that smoking in pregnancy varies hugely […] so to reach our ambition for all pregnant women, we must focus particular attention on disadvantaged groups and localities where prevalence remains much higher.’ Tobacco Control Plan for England (2017)

Despite the small drop in percentage, national rates were higher in Quarter 4 than in the previous quarters of the year.  This means the rate at which pregnant women are giving up smoking will have to increase in the lead up to 2022, if the UK is to meet its 6% target.

As well as demonstrating the need to continue improving support for women to stop smoking when pregnant, the results have also highlighted the importance of action to reduce smoking rates in women of childbearing age.

How smoking can harm a baby during pregnancy

Research has shown that smoking while you are pregnant can bring a higher risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low-birthweight and stillbirth.  Smoking can also affect children as they grow, and make them more likely to have health and behaviour problems through childhood. They are also more likely to become a smoker themselves.

Quitting smoking

Stopping smoking at any stage of your pregnancy will make a big difference to both your own health, and the health of your baby. 

It's really important to get help if you are struggling to stop smoking. People who get help from stop smoking advisers are 4 times more likely to quit successfully. Your doctor or midwife can also help you and offer you any advice you need to make stopping as manageable as possible. 

There is also a lot of support available online and by phone to you to help you stop smoking.

More information

Read more about smoking and pregnancy 

More information about these NHS findings

More on smoking and pregnancy

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