Smoking during pregnancy is known to increase the risk of a baby being born prematurely, or having a low birth weight. It can even lead to fatalities, and smoking both during and following pregnancy has been found to increase the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Now, in a bid to prevent the number of babies falling sick or dying, and to educate women about the risks, hospitals within the NHS in Britain are being urged to test all pregnant women for carbon monoxide to see if they smoke, rather than simply taking their word for it.
While currently, women tend to be simply asked whether they smoke and are offered help if they say ‘yes’, the new measures would be more drastic and are being pushed for by Public Health England.
Screenings would happen when expectant mothers book their hospital appointments in a bid to prevent smoking-related complications for babies and to cut the cost to the NHS.
Duncan Selbie, who is head of Public Health England is calling for the action in the latest move to make the NHS totally smoke free. Mr Selbie has also called for hospitals to totally ban smoking on their property.
It comes after Scotland banned smoking on health board grounds last year. He said drastic measures were the only way to bring about a totally tobacco free generation of Britons.
However, his demands for pregnant mothers have immediately come under fire from users of the huge social network Mumsnet who described it as “intrusive nannying”. Users said pregnant women should be trusted to tell the trust about their smoking habits.
Deborah Arnott, however, from Action on Smoking and Health said that carbon monoxide testing should be brought in to ensure smokers, and those who might have faulty heating in their homes, got the help they needed.