All pregnant women to have ‘smoking test’

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All pregnant women will now be screened for smoking, it was announced this week.

Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust has launched the scheme to carry out carbon monoxide testing on all pregnant women who use their services.

The aim of the scheme is to identify those pregnant women who smoke, or who are exposed to second-hand smoke, so that the right support and advice can be given.

It will also alert midwives to women who may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a faulty gas appliance.

The majority of the carbon monoxide testing is carried out by the community midwives at the booking appointment.

Midwifery staff in the antenatal clinics at both Stoke Mandeville and Wycombe hospitals will also undertake testing.

The midwifery team then refer the mothers to the Bucks Stop Smoking Service.

The trust says smoking in pregnancy poses serious health risks for unborn children, including premature birth, miscarriage and still birth.

Children born to mothers who smoke are also at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (cot death), developing respiratory conditions such as asthma or bronchitis, attention and hyperactivity difficulties, learning difficulties,ear, nose and throat problems, obesity and diabetes.

Children who grow up in households with a parent who smokes are three times more likely to start smoking themselves compared to those who grow up in smoke-free households.

If both parents smoke the risk is even greater.

Head of midwifery at Bucks NHS Trust, Audrey Warren, said: “This scheme is designed to support mothers who are smoking during pregnancy.

“Smoking is extremely addictive and it can be hard for some mothers to quit.

“As midwives, it is part of our role to help mothers protect their health and that of their unborn baby, and carrying out carbon monoxide testing will help us to do this.”

Bucks County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Patricia Birchley, said: “I’m delighted Bucks Healthcare are rolling out this new scheme.

“Smoking in pregnancy carries very serious health risks for unborn children and we support any initiative that is aimed at addressing this avoidable risk.

“Helping women to stop smoking in pregnancy will also help break the cycle of smoking initiation, ultimately reducing the number of smokers in the county by helping to ensure today’s children don’t grow up to be tomorrow’s smokers.”