smoking and pregnancy
Smoking while pregnant puts both mother and baby at risk of significant harm to their health.
We need to ensure that pregnant women who smoke have specific cessation and prevention programmes tailored to their needs, have appropriate referral interventions, midwives trained in tobacco cessation, and access to effective and equitable cessation services and products to support them in quitting for the benefit of their health and that of their child.
Whilst Public Health Wales is trialling a number of initiatives to engage more effectively with pregnant smokers, it remains the case that there is currently a lack of systematic service delivery to support pregnant smokers to quit right across Wales.
Our Smokefree Baby & Me campaign page has lots of support and information for mums-to-be.
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.
|Short-Term Problems||Long-term problems|
|Pre-term birth||Learning difficulties eg. Autism|
|Pre mature membrane rupture||Hyperactivity|
|Placenta previa||Ear, nose and throat problems|
|Small for gestational age||Diabetes|
|Still birth||Ectopic Pregnancy|
|Sudden Infant Death Syndrome|
Women who smoke at initial pregnancy assessment (10 weeks), by Health Board
In 2017 the Welsh Government created a new dataset, Maternity Statistics Wales, which presents data on the percentage of women at initial assessment (10 weeks) who smoked.
The stats below are for 2015 to 2016 and the whole-Wales average stands at 18.4%
|Health Board||% who smoke during pregnancy|
|Cardiff & Vale||14.6%|
Although women are more likely to attempt to quit smoking when pregnant3, research shows that 16% of Welsh women who smoke continue to do so throughout their pregnancy.4
The research – from 2010 and currently the latest statistics available on smoking throughout pregnancy – also showed that 11,864 unborn babies in Wales are exposed to harm from tobacco each year.
% of mothers, by nation, who smoked during pregnancy
% were smokers but gave up during pregnancy
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.
The Models of Access to Maternal Smoking cessation Support (MAMSS) project, which was conducted in Wales, aimed to evaluate how well smoking cessation programs were being delivered to pregnant women. The scheme aimed to increase the proportion of pregnant women who engage with stop smoking services5.
3Smoking cessation during pregnancy – A clinician’s guide to help pregnant women quit smoking. American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 2011