Smokers' test to help pregnant women quit
EXPECTANT mums who smoke during pregnancy are being given help to ditch their habit.
It is hoped the project, the first of its type in Scotland, will signal a healthier future for Glasgow babies.
Known as 'Breathe', the scheme involves testing carbon monoxide levels of mums-to-be to find out how much they smoke, before putting them on a programme to help them quit.
They will be referred to a 'smoking cessation' midwife at the city's Southern General, the Queen Mum's or the Princess Royal Maternity, given an action plan, counselling and offered medication to stop nicotine cravings.
Medics have shown smoking whilst pregnant increases the risk of the baby being born premature and underweight, while increasing the risk of cot death.
According to research, if a woman continues to smoke after giving birth, the child is more at risk of developing certain cancers, suffering asthma attacks and other breathing difficulties, and is twice as likely to become a smoker.
Lorraine Jarvie, who heads the Breathe project, said the scheme was "a brilliant development to improve the future health of women and babies".
She said: "Breathe will see every pregnant woman being given a routine carbon monoxide test as part of her first clinic visit.
"If she chooses to, the woman will be referred to one of the new smoking cessation link midwives.
"A smoking cessation action plan will be devised, outlining how the mum-to-be intends to quit and why she wants to do it.
"This will be followed by a risk-benefit analysis before nicotine replacement therapy is recommended.
"After the first session, the woman will receive weekly telephone support for four weeks and will have one final meeting with the midwife before the counselling is taken over by a 'starting fresh' pharmacist."
Agnes McGowan, manager of the smoke cessation team, said: "This is the first of its kind in Scotland. Helping smokers to quit is a priority for us.
"We need to realise that people smoke as a result of stress and pregnancy is a very stressful time.
"In the past all mums would get was some advice on why smoking was bad for both them and their baby, and then they would be left to do cold turkey.
"Now they are given professional help, advice and techniques to quit."
The project is part of the city's bid to meet the Scottish Executive's target of reducing the number of expectant mums who are smokers to 23% by 2005, and to 20% by 2010. With the figure currently standing at 27%, staff are confident of meeting the 2005 target.
Dr Neil Gibson, consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine at Yorkhill Hospital, who has been involved in research into the effects of smoking on children's lungs, backed the project.
He said: "Smoking during pregnancy can seriously damage your unborn baby's lung development.
"Recent research suggests that babies born to mothers who smoke will have underdeveloped lungs, that the lungs will never catch up, and that the damage could be permanent.
"Children of smokers are also far more likely to have a low birth-weight or to be born premature and to suffer more chest problems throughout their lives.
"We admit around 400 children a year to Yorkhill with bronchiolitis (inflammation of small airways in the lungs) and if we could help pregnant women give up smoking, we could reduce that number dramatically."
In 2001, 27% of Scots mums-to-be were smokers at the start of pregnancy.
A 1990 study showed 56% of women who quit during pregnancy relapsed within 30 days of the birth and 65% after six months.
A 1999 poll showed 75% of smokers saw the habit as "fairly or very dangerous" to an unborn child.
That report found 28% quit, 43% cut down, 6% quit then re-started, 1% smoked more and 2% switched to low tar during pregnancy.
Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to be younger, single, have left school at the minimum leaving age, have partners who smoke and live in deprived social circumstances.