Pregnant women to be given breath tests

Health watchdog tells midwives to challenge all pregnant women over truth about smoking by offering breath tests.

All pregnant women should be tested for smoking so that they can be given quitting advice if necessary, the health watchdog, NICE, has said.

Midwives will be told to ‘encourage’ expectant mothers to take the carbon monoxide test at their first antenatal appointments, in hope of shocking them into realising how many toxins their baby is being exposed to.

But the plans to check if pregnant women are telling the truth about their smoking habits have come under critisism from midwives who say mothers-to-be need encouragement to quit rather than made to feel guilty.

The guidelines were welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives, but it stressed ‘non- judgemental’ support was

required.

 Sue Macdonald, research manager at the college, says:It is crucial that health practitioners, including midwives, focus on being supportive rather than making women feel guilty.’

The research, carried out by NICE, says a third of women smoke while pregnant. 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 issues in childhood, such as hyperactivity and attention difficulty, as well as causing respiratory problems.

Women who fail the test would be offered stop-smoking services. NICE has said the tests wil save the NHS millions of pounds in treatments later.

Is the new breath test too intrusive? Or are you of the belief that mums-to-be should be made aware of health risks, regardless of the methods involved. Tell us your thoughts by posting your comment below.

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