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Supporting pregnant women giving up smoking 'vital'

The Chief Executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales, Elen de Lacy, says it is a "sad fact" that smoking during pregnancy in Wales continues to be considerably above the UK average, but that it is "vital" mums-to-be are given "extra support" to help them give up.

It is a sad fact that Wales continues to have the highest rate of smoking in pregnancy in the whole of the UK.

Giving up smoking is hard on its own but with the added pressures of having a baby it is doubly challenging, which is why extra support is vital for pregnant women to help them give up.

Midwives and health visitors are able to build close relationships with women, at home and in the community, and are often the best placed to support women throughout their pregnancies and afterwards.

– Elen de Lacy, Chief Executive of ASH Wales

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Smoking during pregnancy 'stubbornly high' in Wales

woman smoking
More than 11,000 babies a year are affected by smoking in Wales Credit: PA

Wales has the highest rate of smoking during pregnancy in the UK, which is putting thousands of babies' lives at risk, health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales has warned.

One third of mums-to-be in Wales smoke at some point during their pregnancy - considerably higher than the UK average, which lies at just over one quarter - exposing 11,864 unborn babies to harm from tobacco each year.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death); premature birth; low birth-weight and miscarriage.

Maternal smoking is also associated with a range of health problems throughout the baby's life including asthma, birth defects such as cleft lip, ADHD and learning difficulties.

In Wales, one-to-one quit smoking support can be provided to pregnant women by Stop Smoking Wales, but rates remain "stubbornly high". according to ASH Wales.

Health board admit failure for misdiagnosing pregnancy

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s Executive Director of Nursing, Ruth Walker, offered the Board’s unreserved apologies to Emily Wheatley for misdiagnosing her pregnancy. The Board has accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations and assures the public it has now updated it's protocols.

"We do not underestimate the distress we have caused and are genuinely sorry that it has taken an Ombudsman’s report for her to receive the answers she deserved. What happened is absolutely unacceptable"

“While we now have protocols in place within the Obstetrics and Gynaecology directorate that comply with best practice, we have decided to go beyond the Ombudsman’s recommendations and undertake a review of the way we care for women in the early stages of pregnancy. "

The Health Board understands there may be current or former patients who have concerns about their experience of early pregnancy scans whilst in their care. They've opened a helpline to support anyone who wants to talk through issues relating to their care. The UHB helpline number is 0800 952 0244

Monmouth mum's false miscarriage diagnosis

Emily Wheatley and baby daughter, Ella who is now 8 months old. Credit: ITV News

A mother from Monmouth was told by midwives at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff that she had suffered a 'silent miscarriage'. 24 hours later, Emily Wheatley had another scan at a different hospital which revealed she was still pregnant.

The health ombudsman for Wales found the Health Board had failed to implement guidelines issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) that were designed to prevent the misdiagnosis of early pregnancy loss.

The health board has now been ordered to review its procedures, apologise to Emily and pay her £1,500 in recognition of the inconvenience and expense incurred in obtaining alternative antenatal care.

Teenage pregancy rate 'still too high'

The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Wales, Kirsty Williams AM, says while she welcomes the drop in teenage pregnancies, the rate is "still too high".

Many young mothers have a positive experience of pregnancy, but the reality is that many teenage pregnancies are unplanned. Good quality sexual and relationship education in schools is incredibly important if we are to tackle this.

There is no hiding from the fact that teenage pregnancies are not evenly distributed across society. Too often young people living in poorer areas suffer from low self-esteem and believe they have a lack of life opportunities.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

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Teenage pregnancy falls by a quarter in 10 years

Despite the fall, the conception rate for under 18s remained higher than in England. Credit: Katie Collins/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Teenage pregnancy rates in Wales have dropped by almost a quarter in the past decade, new figures show.

The Office for National Statistics figures said in 2011, 34 girls out of every 1,000 fell pregnant under the age of 18, down from 45 per 1,000 in 2001.

Julia Chandler, national officer for the Royal College of Midwives in Wales, said greater awareness of teenage pregnancy among teenagers, along with more availability of morning-after contraception, had contributed to the decline.

Despite the fall, the conception rate for under 18s remained higher than in England.

In 2011, 34.2 girls out of every 1,000 fell pregnant in Wales compared with 30.7 in England.

Merthyr Tydfil had the highest rate out of Wales's 22 local authority areas, with 54.1 out of every 1,000 girls aged 15-17 becoming pregnant. That figure was the fourth highest in England and Wales.

Blaenau Gwent saw the biggest fall in Wales, dropping by 32%.

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