Data presented to Walsall Council’s health and wellbeing board revealed that, in 2017/18, 13.2 per cent of pregnant women in the town had been smoking at the time of the delivery of their baby.
Public health officers told members of the board at a meeting on Tuesday that smoking in pregnancy remained one of the main risk factors for infant mortality and office of National Statistics data showed the infant mortality rate in Walsall between 2015-17 was at 6.2 per 1,000 births.
A report to the board said factors such as a lack of support from family and friends and an inability to kick the habit during the stress of pregnancy were hampering efforts to encourage women to quit smoking.
Esther Higdon, senior commissioning and programme development manager, said: “Infant mortality continues to be an issue of significant concern in Walsall.
“Both because of the high levels of infant mortality but also because those risk factors that cause mortality also impact on a baby’s ability to thrive in the early years of life which can affect their development."
By Gurdip Thandi
Local Democracy Reporter