Biggest ever fall in maternal smoking

Date: 04/07/2024 | Category: News 2024

4% of women in Buckinghamshire now smoking at time of delivery

According to newly published figures, 2023/24 saw the biggest ever fall in the proportion of mothers smoking during pregnancy.

Newly published figures from NHS Digital for this key public health indicator show the figure dropped by more than a percentage point from 2022/23 to 2023/24, for the first time since 2007/8. The absolute fall in mothers recorded as smoking at the time of delivery was about 6,300.

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT) has been focusing on reducing the number of pregnant women smoking at the time of giving birth. Providing immediate access to a tobacco dependency advisor from the beginning of pregnancy is improving engagement and uptake of smoking cessation services for those communities most likely to smoke. Engagement with the Trust’s smoking cessation service has increased from 25% in March 2023 to over 95% in June 2024 with just 4% of women now smoking at time of giving birth – a decrease from 8% and well below the national target of 6%. There has also been a decrease in the number of women smoking at time of booking from 7% in 2021 to less than 6% during April to June 2024.

Commenting on the success of the smoking cessation programme, Michelle East, Director of Midwifery for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said, “We are really pleased with the progress we have made over the last year which has resulted in over 200 babies being protected against the negative impact of smoking in pregnancy. We know there is more work to do as smoking is the single most important lifestyle change that can reduce preterm births and stillbirths. We are committed to ensuring that we give all babies the best possible start in life.”

The Trust also monitors carbon monoxide levels during pregnancy and have increased the number of women screened for carbon monoxide levels at the time of booking from 20% to 95%. This monitoring is for all pregnant women, not just those who smoke, as they may be exposed to carbon monoxide because other family members smoke or from faulty boilers. High levels of carbon monoxide are potentially fatal for pregnant women and their unborn babies. This important assessment is repeated at 36 weeks.  The rate of women who smoke receiving carbon monoxide monitoring at 36 weeks was over 80% in February 2024, an increase from just 20% in January 2023.