NEARLY a quarter of Borders women are still smoking while pregnant, writes Kenny Paterson.
Scottish Government figures have shown 23.2 per cent of expectant mums were still using cigarettes when attending their first doctor’s appointment in 2010.
The figure is slightly higher than in 2009, when it stood at 22.7 per cent.
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont believes the figure could be higher, with pressure to quit possibly leading to people lying about their habit.
Mr Lamont said: “These are certainly very concerning statistics and show that we still have a lot to do to convince more pregnant women to give up this damaging habit.
“Smoking causes significant damage to your health but it is even more dangerous when you are an expectant mother.
“Not only will it improve the health of your baby, it lessens morning sickness, reduces the risk of stillbirth and reduces the risk of cot death.
“Smoking causes serious problems for a child and the mother, and we must do more to raise awareness of this. That nearly a quarter of expectant mothers are still taking this unnecessary risk is unacceptable and we must see these figures reduced.”
John Lamont added: “I would urge any woman in the Borders who is pregnant and smoking to use the NHS Borders Stop Smoking service not only for their health, but for the health of their child.”
Catriona Davies, NHS Borders’ health improvement specialist and smoking awareness service co-ordinator, said the health board’s Quit4Good scheme provides people with one-to-one support to try and end their addiction.
She added: “The service is currently looking at a range of other options to provide further support to pregnant women.
“In addition, the Quit4Good service provides advice and support on reducing the impact of second hand smoke through a Smoke Free Homes initiative.
“This scheme encourages people – particularly parents – not to smoke in their house.
“This can make a big difference to children as it reduces significantly their exposure to the toxins associated with cigarette smoking.”
Dr Eric Baijal, joint director of public health told us: “All pregnant women are tested for levels of carbon monoxide in their body – one of the poisons associated with tobacco smoking.
“If the levels are high and consistent with those of a tobacco smoker, they are given advice on how to stop smoking and are offered a referral to the NHS Borders stop smoking service Quit4Good.
“We can only help and support those women who attend their antenatal appointments and this is one of the reasons that NHS Borders is working to improve access to antenatal services here in the Borders.”