More than one in ten mothers cared for in Bolton were smoking at the end of their pregnancy.

Of 912 births between July and September of last year, 109 women under the care of Bolton CCG were known to be smokers when they gave birth, accounting for 12 per cent of all births.

The number of expectant mothers smoking is double the national ambition of six per cent or less.

Val Clare, head of midwifery at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “Across Greater Manchester, whilst the figures are higher than the national aim, the numbers are improving.

"It’s important to consider that statistically there are a higher proportion of women who are smokers in this area.

"We set ourselves an internal target of below 11 per cent - and last month our figures were 10.4 per cent.

"We’re also really proud of our success rates. Last quarter the amount of women who we supported to quit that remained smokefree 12 weeks after delivery, was 71 per cent.

"Here at Bolton we support our women to have the safest possible pregnancy – we have a specialist stop smoking midwife who works with all pregnant women who are smokers at the time of booking, and are part of the Greater Manchester smokefree pregnancies programme."

In April, May, and June, 111 new mothers were smoking at the end of their pregnancy, 12.9 per cent of the 860 births in the period.

The figures have been falling over the past seven years, as 16 per cent of women were smokers at the time of delivery in the 2013/14 period.

Bolton has always had a slightly higher percentage of mothers smoking up to birth than the rest of the country, with 12.2 per cent of mothers smoking at birth across England in 2013/14, down to 10.4 per cent in the 2019/20 year to date.

The town is edging closer towards the national average, and midwives have been working hard to ensure that every woman has the safest pregnancy possible.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, still birth, and neonatal complications, and still remains the single largest cause of preventable deaths with more than 200 deaths each day.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is attempting to reduce smoking during pregnancy to just six per cent by the end of 2022.

The national ambition is part of the tobacco control plan, a policy that aims to encourage a smokefree generation.

Other objectives of the plan are to reduce the number of 15-year-olds who regularly smoke, reduce smoking among adults in England, and to reduce the inequality gap in smoking prevalence between those in routine and manual occupations and the general public.

Smoking rates are almost three times higher amongst the lowest earners.