Smoking in pregnancy ‘dropped by 25% in five years’

New study claims fewer pregnant women are smoking but calls for e-cigarette review

The smoking rate among expectant mothers attending the Coombe  hospital in Dublin fell from 14.3 per cent to 10.9 per cent between 2011 and 2015. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

The smoking rate among expectant mothers attending the Coombe hospital in Dublin fell from 14.3 per cent to 10.9 per cent between 2011 and 2015. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

 

Smoking during pregnancy has dropped by one-quarter in five years but it remains a challenging problem, according to new Irish research.

The study, which shows for the first time that women are smoking e-cigarettes during pregnancy, says the safety of these devices needs to be examined.

Between 2011 and 2015, the smoking rate among expectant mothers attending the Coombe maternity hospital in Dublin fell from 14.3 per cent to 10.9 per cent.

Higher smoking rates were associated with younger women, those with children already, unemployment, an unplanned pregnancy as well as a history of psychiatric problems, and alcohol and drug use.

“Amongst women who continue to smoke during pregnancy, there is a clustering of adverse lifestyle behaviour and psychological problems that may need to be addressed if smoking cessation interventions are going to succeed.”

The study, published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science, is based on the records of 42,500 women who passed through the hospital over a five-year period.

Overall, 53 per cent of women said they never smoked, while 35 per cent described themselves as ex-smokers.

Eleven per cent smoked less than 10 cigarettes a day, 2 per cent smoked more than this and 0.1 per cent used e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes

Just 21 cases of e-cigarette usage were recorded but data was collected only from 2013 on.

The study says there is no evidence currently on the safety of e-cigarette use in pregnancy, and should its popularity rise, it would need to be carefully monitored.

Recent figures indicate almost half of all smokers have tried e-cigarettes and 6 per cent currently smoke them.

The fall in the popularity of smoking among expectant mothers is in line with trends in the wider population.

In 2007, 27 per cent of women smoked, but this had dropped to 21 per cent in 2015.

Smoking during pregnancy leads to more premature and restricted-growth babies.

The study recommends that women who continue to smoke should be identified when they attend for antenatal care and provided with the appropriate supports.