One in seven Derbyshire mothers smoked during pregnancy - and now the county council is set to spend £120,000 to help bring this down.
The number of women in the county who smoked during pregnancy is ‘significantly higher’ than the national average by 14.1 per cent to 10.7 per cent respectively.
This works out as more than 1,000 women continuing to smoke at the time of delivery each year.
However, this has dropped from 16.8 per cent in 2010 and the rate continues to fall.
Within Derbyshire, there is a stark contrast in those who smoke during pregnancy, with 11.1 per cent in Chesterfield compared to 16.9 per cent in Bolsover.
Smoking during pregnancy causes up to 5,000 miscarriages, 300 perinatal deaths, 2,200 premature births, and 19,000 babies to be born with low birth weight in the UK each year.
Central government has published strict targets to try and reduce the rate of smoking during pregnancy to six per cent by 2022.
Derbyshire County Council says that it is not likely to achieve this target for another 15 years and it would require 600 women to stop smoking at the time of delivery each year.
It now says a ‘concerted effort’ is required by all Derbyshire authorities who work with pregnant smokers.
The council is set to approve the spending of £120,000 over two years to help bring the rate of smoking among pregnant mothers down.
It will spend the money by giving two midwives extra responsibilities as Smokefree Champions.
The midwives will have approximately three days a week each alongside their existing duties to focus specifically on this role.
They will oversee training for all midwives and maternity staff to ensure the have the skills to address the issue with patients, and to spark a ‘cultural change’ to make sure this happens.
The champions will also ensure that carbon monoxide tests are carried out during pregnancy check-ups, such as at the antenatal booking, 12-week scan and at 36 weeks.
These tests will provides an accurate assessment of a patient’s smoking status.
If the new roles are successful, the county council intends to ask Derbyshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for funding to make them permanent.
A report on the issue, ahead of a meeting on Thursday (January 10), states: “This project is intended to contribute to reducing health inequalities by supporting work to reduce smoking in pregnancy.
“Smoking during pregnancy is a significant contributor to health inequality, with prevalence varying significantly across communities and social groups.
“Mothers in routine and manual occupations are five times more likely to have smoked throughout pregnancy compared to women in managerial and professional occupations, meaning those from lower socio-economic groups are at a much greater risk of complications during and after pregnancy.
“Pregnant teenagers are six times more likely to smoke than older mothers.
“Children who grow up with a smoking parent are also more likely to become smokers themselves, further perpetuating the cycle of inequality and affecting their life chances.”
Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service