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Shropshire Star comment: Smoking in pregnancy too routine

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

How many pregnant women would continue to smoke if their unborn child was given a voice, and piped up plaintively from the womb to say: “Please stop mum, you could be doing me damage”?

Given the risks associated with women continuing to smoke while pregnant, it is surprising that the number who don’t put the fags away remains so high in the Telford & Wrekin area.

In 2016/2017, 21 per cent were still smoking at the time of birth. That’s double the national average.

Hotspot areas have included Sutton Hill, Woodside, and Brookside, which are all large housing estates. In fact, in what must surely be a coincidence, they are the first big housing estates created for the new town of Telford, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

There is good news, relatively speaking, as the smoking figure has now fallen to 17.2 per cent. This is still too high, but does suggest that the creation of a new role to tackle the problem, filled by midwife Michelle Powell, is starting to have an effect.

It goes without saying that it is a habit that is hard to break, and motivation is key. Michelle sees the smokers, assesses them, talks to them, and generally lays out the path towards that goal of giving up.

In the 21st century there should be no need for explanations about why smoking is bad for you. Just look at a cigarette packet and it will spell it out.

There are people who understandably feel they should have the choice of how to lead their lives, and what health risks they are prepared to accept. Their unborn child has a right too though, a right to the best start possible.

Smoking is not illegal as such and people of an age to do so have a right to smoke. But that voice which is never heard, that of the unborn child, should surely be taken into account. Michelle says there is increased risk of miscarriage and premature labour, and also of the baby not growing as well as they should, and a risk of haemorrhage.

All power to Michelle in her efforts. There will be those who have setbacks, and others who find the going tough, but how rewarding it must be every time the end result is a healthier mum and a healthy baby.

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