MUMS-to-be in Hastings are faring better than their Eastbourne counterparts at cutting out dangerous addictions in the run-up to the birth.
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed the Conquest Hospital saw 66 births to mums with addictions between November 2010 and October 2011, compared to 166 at Eastbourne District General Hospital.
The figures appear to show pregnant women in Hastings are taking more heed of warnings from health experts than mums-to-be in Eastbourne. Over this period, 57 children were born to mums at the Conquest who failed to give up their smoking habit but this figure rose to 156.
The FoI also revealed that three mums had registered alcohol problems (two at the DGH), four women gave birth while addicted to heroin (six at the DGH), two on Cannabis (one at the DGH) and none on cocaine (one at the DGH).
Smoking during pregnancy has many associated pitfalls. Expectant mothers can suffer from vaginal bleeding and see their waters break sooner than is healthy.
The highest risk, however, is to the unborn child. Babies whose mums continue to smoke can be born with birth defects, like cleft lip and palate, and are likely to weigh far less than those born to non-smokers.
And in the worst cases, mums can suffer miscarriages or see their children stillborn.
The good news, however, is that anyone who stops smoking or cuts down their exposure to second hand smoke will benefit themselves and their baby immediately.
A spokesman for the local health service said, “Smoking while pregnant can be harmful to your baby and can damage your own health.
“It is a good idea to stop smoking before you get pregnant; this also has a positive effect on your fertility.
“Encourage your partner, if he smokes, to give up, too - second-hand smoke still contains harmful chemicals that can harm your baby.”
Free help and advice is available to local mums struggling to overcome their addictions through their community midwife.
Alternatively anyone wanting help in giving up can call Sandra Fisher, specialist stop smoking advisor for East Sussex Downs and Weald, on 07827 281316.