All pregnant women are to be put under pressure to take a breath test to check if they are telling the truth about smoking...
All pregnant women are to be put under pressure to take a breath test to check if they are telling the truth about smoking.
The intrusive new guidance comes from the NHS watchdog NICE and critics insist it is yet another example of nanny state meddling. Midwives will be told to encourage mothers-to-be to have the carbon monoxide tests at their very first antenatal appointment.
‘Of course midwives should offer support to pregnant women who smoke to help them stop, but a compulsory test seems intrusive,’ said Justine Roberts, from the website Mumsnet.
NICE has said it wants to see the carbon monoxide breath tests rolled out across the Health Service because pregnant women often take no action to stop smoking or protect their baby until presented with evidence of the harm it is doing their own bodies.
Smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and sudden, unexpected death in infancy. Exposure to smoke in the womb is also associated with psychological problems in childhood such as attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. Furthermore, children of smoking parents tend to suffer from respiratory difficulties throughout their lifetime.
Nearly 50% of children in the UK are exposed to tobacco smoke within the home.
However, the guidance has been heavily criticised suggesting it is too coercive. Sue MacDonald from the Royal College of Midwives advises health practitioners, including midwives, to focus on being supportive rather then making pregnant women feel guilty.
‘Use of the monitor has the potential to make women feel guilty and not engaged’ she said.
Do you think the introducing of carbon monoxide breath tests is an invasion of privacy or a necessary initiative to impress on women the serious effects of smoking during pregnancy?