70 pregnant smokers give birth a month

PROBLEM Dozens of women who smoke through their pregnancies are giving birth every month in Portsmouth.
PROBLEM Dozens of women who smoke through their pregnancies are giving birth every month in Portsmouth.

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AROUND 70 women a month are smokers right up to the birth of their baby in the Portsmouth area.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs midwifery services in south-east Hampshire, has revealed that on average this year, 15 per cent of all women giving birth were still smoking – equivalent to 72 a month.

As reported in The News, the trust introduced carbon monoxide (CO) testing this month, to show mums-to-be the damage they are doing to their unborn child by smoking.

Tina Spiers, clinical lead midwife for PHT, said: ‘Nationally, the NHS would like to see that figure come down to 11 per cent, so as you can see we have a way to go here.

‘The smoking rates for pregnant women in the Portsmouth area are already higher than the national average.

‘So even if a percentage of those do stop, we’re still higher that the rest of the country.

‘But we’re hoping mums will take the test and see the effect it is having on both them and their baby and think about stopping.’

The test is a breathalyser, which gives women a reading of CO levels in their blood and then their baby’s.

Ms Spiers added: ‘So far we have had a good response, not only from mums but people coming in with them during their first appointment with a midwife.

‘This is the mum’s partner or family member, and that’s important to us as well.

‘Really you shouldn’t be smoking before pregnancy, but we want to help women quit and then stay smoke-free after the birth. Smoking during pregnancy can cause bleeding, premature births and a greater risk of a child being stillborn.

The test is at centres including Gosport, Portsmouth, Petersfield, and Fareham.

Higher than national average of smokers

CARBON monoxide testing has been introduced in birthing centres across south-east Hampshire due to the high number of women who smoke during pregnancy.

Figures from Portsmouth City Council show 17.3 per cent of pregnant women smoke during pregnancy – the national average is 12.7 per cent. In Hampshire the figure is 11.8 per cent but it is also a problem in deprived areas of the south coast.

CO readings will show the level of the gas in the mother’s blood stream and then the baby’s.

If they are high, mums-to-be will be referred to stop smoking services and educated about the risks they are causing their child.