Black Maternal Health Week — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:13 am on 14th September 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 10:13 am, 14th September 2021

Absolutely. The office will look at all pregnancies, and the negative contributing factors. I believe that one in four women—black and white women—who present in labour are obese. That has an incredibly high risk factor during labour, so it is to address inequalities across the board. My right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North mentioned socio-economic groups, and the disparities they experience: smoking, alcohol and other negative factors that contribute during pregnancy are across the board, and they need to be addressed. That is the reason why the office has been established.

The cessation of smoking during pregnancy was something we campaigned on a lot in the past. I have noticed, probably since we passed the legislation to ban smoking in many places, the emphasis has almost come off the importance of not smoking during pregnancy. The CMO’s report highlights that, in some areas of low socio-economic grouping, 25% of women are starting pregnancy smoking. That highlights the fact that we need to put more emphasis on, and focus on, those health disparities.