NHS to ask pregnant women to take a smoking test to prevent stillbirthsRuth Mabhiza
NHS to ask pregnant women to take a smoking test to prevent stillbirths.
Support throughout pregnancy
Any woman referred for specialist advice to quit smokingwill receive help and continued support throughout their pregnancy.
It comes as NHS England said a pilot scheme launched in 2017 saved 160 babies’ lives, increased the detection of growth problems by 59 per cent and resulted in 20 per cent fewer stillbirths.
Carbon monoxide poisoning from smoking causes serious harm and can lead to death for babies, along with complications in later life.
Meanwhile babies that are born prematurely require extra care and cost the NHS £3.4 billion per year.
The tests will be carried out at antenatal appointments from July (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty)Health secretary Matthew Hancock said he welcomed the scheme as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to halve the number of stillbirths by 2025.
“The number of women smoking in pregnancy is at a record low – but too many women still suffer the tragedy of a stillbirth as a result of smoking,” he said.
“[These] important plans are about our continuing commitment to do everything in our power to address this, by supporting mums-to-be to quit, in pregnancy and for good.”
Earlier this year the NHS announced plans to support half a million smokers to quit over the next five years as part of a £183 million investment to offer advice to every smoker admitted to hospital.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “No parent should have to endure the heartbreak of stillbirth, and NHS action, delivered through the skill and professionalism of our midwives, nurses and doctors – means an even greater number of parents and babies experience a healthy birth.”
According to the neonatal and stillbirth charity Sands, more than one in ten women in England are still smoking when their child is born.
Clare Livingstone, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said reducing smoking in pregnancy was one of the key means of reducing the UK’s stillbirth rate.
“But this cannot be achieved successfully without significant investment in specialist services,” she added.
“So the RCM is pleased that NHS England has confirmed today it will offer every pregnant woman referred for specialist advice to stop smoking support within 24 hours of referral.”
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