Updated: Monday, 20th November 2017 @ 5:34pm

SHAMEside: One in five expectant Tameside mothers smoke up until childbirth – with devastating results

SHAMEside: One in five expectant Tameside mothers smoke up until childbirth – with devastating results

By Sam Richardson

A staggering 20% of expectant mothers in Tameside still smoke in the final stages of pregnancy – the fifth highest amount in the North West.

Figures recently published by Public Health England also show that a worrying 17% of expectant mothers in the North West still smoke up until childbirth, compared to a national average of 13%.

This means that the North West has the second highest percentage of expectant mothers smoking at the time of childbirth in England, behind the North East with 20.7%.

Martin Dockrell, Director of Research & Policy of ASH, a public health campaign group, said: “Smoking is the biggest cause of health inequalities in England.

“It accounts for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest in the country and is even worse in pregnancy.

“The highest level of smoking in pregnancy is among teenagers, with 6 out of 10 of them smoking.”

Smoking during pregnancy can have devastating effects on a baby’s growth and development.

It is estimated that on average, smoking while expecting will double the chances of a baby being born too early, as well as doubling the risk of stillbirth.

It is also thought that smoking during pregnancy can have lifelong effects on a baby's brain – children of pregnant smokers are more likely to have learning disorders and behavioral problems when they grow older.

Rochdale, Bolton and Wigan also have a concerning percentage of expectant mothers who smoke, with 19.7%, 18.3% and 17.5% respectively.

Trafford is the only borough in Greater Manchester to fall below the national average, with only 8% of expectant mothers still smoking at the time of delivery.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry, said: "Smoking in pregnancy is risky for both mothers and their babies and we are working hard to reduce rates.

"Nationally, we're making good progress but considerable local variation remains.

"That is why we are giving local areas a ring-fenced public health budget for the first time to tackle these issues.”

Pregnant women can get support to quit by calling the NHS pregnancy smoking helpline on 0800 1699 169.

Picture courtesy of fried dough, with thanks.

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