Smoking and pregnancy

There is extensive evidence to show that smoking during pregnancy is harmful to unborn babies. The Government has introduced a target to reduce the percentage of women who smoke at birth to 11% or less by the end of 2015.

Has the percentage of women who smoke at birth decreased?

The percentage of women who smoke at the time of birth has been decreasing since 2004/05 and approaching the 11% target for the end of 2015. In 2014/15, 11.4% of maternities had a woman known to be a smoker; this is a decrease of 5.5% from 2004/05. Department of Health's first integrated highly emotional smoking campaign was launched in 2003/04 and the decrease seen is linked with an increased government focus on reducing the number of people who smoke in England at this time.

Source: 
Health & Social Care Information Centre, Women's Smoking Status at Time of Delivery

How have the number of maternities changed over time?

The absolute number of maternities where it is known that the woman is a smoker at time of birth has also been decreasing. In 2014/15 a bit less than 71,000 women were known to be smokers, a decrease of 20,000 since 2006/07. However, the total number of maternities has also been decreasing since 2011/12 and the number and the proportion of women where smoking status is not known has increased compared to 2013/14.

Source: 
Health & Social Care Information Centre, Women's Smoking Status at Time of Delivery
About this data

The number of maternities is defined as the number of pregnant women who give birth to one or more live or stillborn babies of at least 24 weeks gestation, where the baby is delivered by either a midwife or doctor, at home or in an NHS hospital (including GP units). This count is the number of pregnant women, not the number of babies (deliveries). It does not include maternities that occur in psychiatric hospitals or private beds / hospitals.

Women known to be smokers at the time of delivery are defined as pregnant women who reported smoking (at all) at the time of delivery. Women known to be non-smokers at the time of delivery are defined as pregnant women who reported smoking no cigarettes (at all) at the time of delivery. This count does not include women whose smoking status is not known (which is collected separately), or those who intend to give up smoking after delivery.

Percentage of mothers known to be smokers at the time of delivery is:

Number of mothers known to be smokers at the time of delivery / Number of maternities *100.

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