Nearly half of Wakefield’s teenage mothers smoke during pregnancy

Silhouette of pregnant women smoking
Silhouette of pregnant women smoking

Nearly half of teenage mothers who gave birth in the district last year smoked during their pregnancy.

Of the 227 women aged 19 and under who gave birth during 2012/13, 103 smoked while they were pregnant.

A total of 23 per cent of expectant mothers of all ages in the district were smokers at the time they gave birth.

And the figures suggest Wakefield has some of the highest numbers of pregnant smokers in Yorkshire, topped only by the Hull and North East Lincolnshire areas.

Smokefree Wakefield, a group of organisations working to lower the number of people smoking tobacco, urged pregnant smokers to seek help to kick the habit.

Dr Andrew Furber, director of public health at Wakefield Council, said: “These figures are quite startling considering the well-known serious implications smoking can have on mum and baby - before and after it is born.

“Every time a pregnant woman inhales from a cigarette, it reduces the amount of oxygen reaching her baby meaning its little heart has to work harder. Alarmingly, one thing we are hearing more is that some women are continuing to smoke throughout their pregnancy in the hope that they will give birth to a small baby. Yet the reality is smoking can be responsible for a whole series of health-related problems including complications during labour, an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, low birth weight – which can lead to other health issues, and sudden unexpected death in infancy such as cot death.

“Expectant mothers should know that it is never too late to give up the habit; every cigarette you don’t smoke will benefit your baby’s health. It is a hard habit to break but there is a wide range of options available in Wakefield to help smokers cut down and stop altogether.”

Coun Pat Garbutt, cabinet member for adults and health, said: “We are very keen to reach out to those pregnant women who really want to stop but are finding it tough to do on their own. They should know that there is plenty of support and advice available to them.

“Also, they may have tried to stop once before during their pregnancy but didn’t succeed and are thinking that there is no point trying again. There is not just one way to quit and what works for one person may not work for another, so it is really important that they get in touch so that they can discover the many different options available about how to cut down and hopefully stop completely. A smokefree mum means a healthier mum and baby before, during and after pregnancy.”

People wanting help to quit smoking can contact Smokefree Wakefield at

Expectant mothers can also speak to their midwife who will be able to put them in touch with the service.