The number of Sunderland women smoking in pregnancy remains way above the national average, new figures from NHS England show.
The proportion of mums-to-be still smoking at delivery remained almost static in Sunderland last year, despite a fall across the region.
Statistics show 15.8% of expectant mothers in the Sunderland NHS area were smoking at delivery in the first quarter of 2016, down from 16% in the same period the previous year.
Across the North East, the rate fell from 16.3% to 15.6 per cent, after a major four-year initiative by the region’s midwives.
The national rate is just 10.2%.
Ailsa Rutter, Director of North East smoking and health campaign Fresh, said: “Most women who smoke will have started in their teens or younger, and it is an addiction that is not always easy to give up.
“Stop smoking services offer friendly support and understanding to make quitting that bit easier.
“Having support at home can also really help.
“Women need the facts but also to know there is excellent free support to quit smoking where they will be supported and helped, not have the finger wagged at them.
“Some women can find the facts quite shocking – but most are very glad they have been told and come to expect this as part of their anti-natal care.
“The North East has seen the largest falls in smoking in England and we still have lots to do before we are down to the national average or lower for pregnancy, but we are moving in the right direction.”