Health written question – answered on 6th September 2013.

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Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Labour, Vale of Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect of smoking on the developing foetus.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Department is aware of evidence that shows that maternal smoking during pregnancy and passive exposure of the mother-to-be to second-hand smoke can have serious negative health consequences for the foetus, the baby post-partum and the mother-to-be.

According to the Royal College of Physicians' 2010 report, Passive Smoking and Children, active maternal smoking causes up to about 5,000 miscarriages, 300 perinatal deaths, and 2,200 premature singleton births in the United Kingdom each year. Exposure of the foetus to active maternal smoking also impairs foetal growth and development, increasing the risk of being small for gestational age and reducing birth weight by about 250g, and probably increases the risk of congenital abnormalities of the heart, limbs, and face. Active maternal smoking causes around 19,000 babies to be born with low birth weight in the UK each year.

The report also describes how maternal passive smoking is likely to have similar adverse effects on foetal and reproductive health, but of smaller magnitude.

A copy of Passive Smoking and Children is available at:

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