§ Mr. Eastham
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the foetal weight loss associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy; (2) what is his estimate of the number of babies who die each year in the perinatal period because their mothers smoked during pregnancy.
§ Sir George Young
Whilst there is evidence that maternal smoking during pregnacy has an adverse effect on an infant's foetal weight, it is extremely difficult to quantify this due to the associated effects of a number of medical, social and economic factors which may also operate adversely on mothers who smoke.
The extent to which maternal smoking is the prime cause of stillbirth or death of infants who might have been at risk for socio-economic or medical reasons in any case during the perinatal period is equally difficult to determine; but on the basis of data given in the 1958 perinatal mortality survey, a study in 1972 suggested that 1,500 babies a year could be saved if expectant mothers could be persuaded not to smoke.
In " Reducing the Risk " it was stated thata woman who smokes during pregnancy is more likely than a nonsmoker to miscarry, to have a premature baby or to lose her baby in child-birth ".