Midwives in Lagan Valley Hospital are urging local mothers to stub out the cigarettes and go smoke free during their pregnancy.
The shock figure reflects the general increase in the number of young women who smoke, and is causing concern about the health of newborns.
“Smoke Free Wombs” is an initiative of midwives in the South-Eastern HSC Trust to encourage mothers-to-be to quit smoking.
Currently, 15.5% of pregnant women who bought the Trust smoke.
“Smoke Free womb ‘uses Facebook, a powerful DVD and cartoon images to try to get the message across that smoking is harmful to unborn baby.
Midwives ask the mom-to-be to sign a commitment to work in partnership with them to give up. Moms-to-be will receive a letter outlining how smoking can harm babies in the womb, and offers the opportunity to meet with the midwife and health. The woman will then be offered intensive support services of smoking cessation.
New Mom Michelle Walsh, from Lisburn, appears on DVD on Facebook.
“I saw the damage my daughter has done, to her baby’s placenta through smoking «she said. “It was hard, like a sweet down to the sand.
“When I got pregnant, smoking is simply not an option. I had to give up.”
The DVD also has a consultant obstetrician Dr Niamh McCabe, who said: “We see the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal in infants. This makes them jittery.”
Health Improvement Midwife Cathy Bell explained: “Research has shown that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of complications for the baby. These include premature birth, low birth weight and sudden infant death. NICE guidance has shown that women can get mixed messages about smoking during pregnancy and to help change behavior consistent advice should be given to any woman who is smoking and pregnant.
“The new initiative of smoking cessation in Southeast GSK« Smokefree womb “gives women booking for pregnancy with the ability to make a commitment to quit smoking during pregnancy. Women are provided with consistent information through face-to-face support by phone, text messages and Facebook.
“Pregnant women who smoke are grouped according to the priority of the Department of Health 10-year-old tobacco control policies in Northern Ireland.
“There is never anything wrong with smoking cessation and benefits for mothers and babies begin as soon as the first cigarette stubbed out.
“This initiative encourages women to feel empowered and committed to quitting smoking through friendly, ongoing support to choose the best start for your child – Smokefree womb.”