AROUND one in five pregnant women in St Helens smoke, according to latest figures which show a steady rise in health standards.
According to figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal 18.9 per cent of mums-to-be smoked during their pregnancy, compared to 27.7 per cent in 2004.
Health chiefs cite the pioneering approach by Halton and St Helens PCT for the decline which has involved training midwives on the impact of smoking.
All mums who smoke are referred to stop smoking services unless they opt out of the scheme, while an incentive scheme was introduced which provides vouchers when they quit and when they have stayed off cigarettes following the birth of their child.
Liz Gaulton, director of public health, said “This innovative approach has been adopted in St Helens and Halton over the past four years.
“It is now recommended by NICE as good practice and as a result, the rates of women smoking throughout their pregnancy in Halton and St Helens have reduced dramatically from 28 per cent to 19 per cent in the last 10 years but we have some way to go to reach the national target of 11 per cent by 2015.
“Stopping smoking when you are pregnant is the best thing that you can do for your baby and will give them the best start in life. There is lots of support available in St Helens to help so it has never been a better time to stop.
“We also have a St Helens smoke free homes scheme where we are asking people not to smoke in front of children in their home or car.”