Scheme’s success at stopping mums-to-be smoking

Pregnant women are almost twice as likely to quit smoking if they are supported from their first midwife appointment – and then are more likely to have heavier, healthier babies.

NIHR SPHR and Fuse researchers at the Universities of  Newcastle and Teesside evaluated the “BabyClear” programme which follows the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance around smoking in pregnancy by screening all pregnant women for smoking using carbon monoxide monitoring.

Any woman still smoking when she first saw a midwife, at around eight weeks into pregnancy, was given information about the risks to their unborn baby. She was then put in contact with agencies who could help her quit.

Publishing today in Tobacco Control, the research team report that in the study of 40,000 mothers-to-be, the number of women helped to stop smoking almost doubled.

Dr Ruth Bell, senior lecturer in the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University, who led the study, said: “This shows that if we help make it routine for midwives to ask about smoking and screen every mother-to-be for carbon monoxide, we can double the number of women who quit smoking in pregnancy and substantially increase the number of healthy babies.”

The team found the women who did not smoke in pregnancy, went on to have babies that were more than half-a-pound heavier (260 grams or 0.57lb) at full term, than those who continued to smoke.

Even women who quit smoking during their pregnancy were shown to have heavier babies (by around 210 grams or 0.46lb) than those of mothers who smoked throughout pregnancy. This is an indicator of a healthier infant that is likely to need less medical help.

The study was funded by NIHR SPHR and Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health as part of the NIHR SPHR’s Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES).

Read more:

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour interview with Dr Ruth Bell at 38:30:

Reference: Evaluation of a complex healthcare intervention to increase smoking cessation in pregnant women: interrupted time series analysis with economic evaluation. Ruth Bell et al. Tobacco Control. Doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053476

Read more about PHPES: