Scotland’s most senior midwife has called for every baby to be born free from the effects of smoke following figures showing smoking in pregnancy has fallen to the lowest level on record.
Official Scottish Government statistics show the number of expectant mothers who identified as smokers when making their first appointment with midwives has fallen to 14.8%, down 1.3% on the previous year and half the rate recorded in 1998.
Mary Ross-Davie, director of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, has signed up to be a champion for Scotland’s charter for a tobacco-free generation, produced by anti-smoking campaign group Ash Scotland.
She will be a champion for principle one on the charter, which states that every baby should be born free from the harmful effects of tobacco.
Ms Ross-Davie said: “Scotland has made fantastic progress in protecting children from second-hand smoke over the last five years. The charter gives everyone who works with children and families a helpful guide to making the dream of a tobacco-free generation a reality.
“Many organisations support the charter and will be working with the Royal College of Midwives and Ash Scotland in support of principle one, including the Scottish Cot Death Trust, the Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh Fertility Clinics and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Scotland.
“By looking at young parents as individuals we can find routes to a smoke-free lifestyle that helps not only mother and baby but the people around them who can make all the difference to achieving a successful smoke-free lifestyle. Let’s involve grandparents and friends, as well as the key professional support staff.”
Ms Ross-Davie is the second charter champion, following Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland.
Sheila Duffy, Ash Scotland chief executive, said: ” Smoking in pregnancy has a big impact on the health of the baby: babies born to women that smoke are smaller and have an increased risk of being stillborn.
“Research shows children of low birth weight have long-term health risks: higher rates of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity in adulthood. Exposure to second-hand smoke as a newborn increases the risk of cot death and is linked to a higher rate of a range of illnesses, including middle ear diseases, wheeze and asthma, bacterial meningitis and lower respiratory tract infection.
“None of this is pleasant to hear but we need champions like Mary to ensure the message gets through, and see to it that everyone is willing to play their part in creating a smoke-free culture around babies, young parents and their families.”
The charter has been signed by more than 175 organisations.