Almost one in four expectant mums in Doncaster smoke while they are pregnant, new figures have revealed.
It is one of the main concerns over health in the borough highlighted in a report by the man in charge of public health in Doncaster, and revealed this week.
Along with obesity, it is highlighted as an issue which needs to be dealt with. But the report also looks at what can be done, and highlights the emerging popularity of cycling in the Doncaster as a possible way of helping slim down the borough.
The annual report by Dr Tony Baxter, director of public health for Doncaster Council, showed 22.5 per cent of mothers in Doncaster are smokers at the time of giving birth.
This is significantly higher than the national average, which stands at 12.7 per cent.
The report also revealed 4.1 per cent of full-term babies in the town are of low birth weight, significantly above the national figure of 2.8 per cent.
Breast feeding rates in Doncaster are also lower than the national average. Just 28.1 per cent of mums breast feeding at six to eight weeks, compared with 47.2 per cent across England.
Dr Baxter said: “Smoking in pregnancy is a major public health concern, increasing health risks to both mother and baby including complications during pregnancy, an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, still birth and low birth weight. The earlier in pregnancy a mother can stop smoking, the better the health outcomes for her and her baby.”
He added: “Starting well in life is vitally important for every child born today. The first three years of a child’s life directly influences their health and wellbeing as a child, and later as an adult.
“A nurturing environment builds a child’s resilience and sets children up to succeed in all aspects of later life.
“Not all children have all these basic needs for good development met and there are differences in experience of good nurturing care and the right resources for growth. Our vision is that every child reaches their full potential at age five.”
No details are given as to how many mums this includes, but the report pledges to tackle the issue in a number of ways.
This includes commissioning early intervention services to support healthy pregnancies and babies, such as the production of a low birth weight information fact-sheet and more pre-conception information for health professionals working with women of child bearing age.
The promotion of the ‘Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Babies’ initiative to encourage women to be healthy while pregnant and relaunching the the Breast Feeding Welcome Scheme and the Breast feeding Peer Support scheme.