Smoking while pregnant puts both mother and baby at risk of significant harm to their health. Every time a mother smokes a cigarette, she inhales carbon monoxide (CO) which reduces the amount of oxygen to the placenta and causes harm to the baby1.
Smoking causes both short-term and long-term problems, from premature delivery to increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or sudden infant death2:
Although women are more likely to attempt to quit smoking when pregnant3, in 2010 16% of Welsh pregnant women who smoke continued to do so throughout their pregnancy4.11,864 unborn babies in Wales are exposed to harm from tobacco each year.
The table below shows the percentage of women who smoke during pregnancy by Health Board:
Second-hand smoke exposure: ante and post natal
Some women may be exposed to second-hand smoke via a friend or a family member. This can cause significant health risks once a child is born including respiratory problems such as asthma, birth defects such as cleft lip and hearing problems such as glue ear.
Second-hand smoke in an enclosed environment such as the home or a car is particularly damaging to younger children who cannot escape from the smoky environment.
Stop smoking support for pregnant women
The Models of Access to Maternal Smoking cessation Support (MAMSS) project, which was conducted in Wales, aims to evaluate how well smoking cessation programs are being delivered to pregnant women. The scheme is aiming to increase the proportion of pregnant women who engage with stop smoking services5.
- NICE Guidance: Quitting smoking in pregnancy and following childbirth
- Study: Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy: Randomised controlled trial, Tappin et al 2015
3Smoking cessation during pregnancy – A clinician’s guide to help pregnant women quit smoking. American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 2011