Extra help, including face to face meetings and telephone support, is to be offered to pregnant women in the Falkirk area who want to quit smoking. Recent figures show that in certain parts of the district more than half of pregnant women are smokers, and the number giving up smoking during this really important time is extremely low
Now a six month pilot scheme is set to provide additional help to quit. Women attending the antenatal clinic following their first ultrasound scan will be asked to breathe out and have their carbon monoxide levels measured as part of routine antenatal care. Any Mums who register above a certain level will be automatically referred on for specialist information, advice and support.
Joanne O’Suilleabhain, Smoking Cessation Co-ordinator said: “Carbon monoxide is harmful to both mother and baby. Smoking is responsible for a third of peri-natal deaths in Scotland and is associated with pre-term delivery, low birthweight and miscarriages. It makes sense to stop smoking. Not only will your health improve but so too will your baby’s.”
The pilot will start on July 2nd 2012 and is a free service. If women need nicotine replacement therapy this will be given free of charge and available at a community pharmacy of their choice.
There are also changes in the way pregnant women in Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire will be monitored. Previously, any who had a carbon monoxide level of three or greater were asked if they wished to be referred to specialist services. Now this will be undertaken automatically. However they will be able to request not to be contacted further after initial communication with a specialist smoking cessation adviser.
Ms O’Suilleabhain added: I’t’s worth remembering that women who stop smoking during the first three to four months of pregnancy reduce the risk of a low birthweight baby to that of a never-smoker. And even in the later stages of pregnancy it is still beneficial to quit in order to cut down the risks to the unborn child.”
The number of pregnant women who smoke varies throughout Forth Valley. The Scottish average is 21% but data collected in Falkirk district shows big variations between areas; for example the prevalence in South Broomage is 10.3% compared with 52% in Kersiebank.
During the pilot the numbers of Falkirk women successfully quitting at four weeks and 12 weeks will be audited. The information will then be compared with the existing care model which is run on an optional basis in Stirling and Clackmannanshire. The learning will inform the NHS Forth Valley smoking cessation service of the most effective approach to support pregnant smokers.
The work is also being undertaken as part of NHS Forth Valley’s contribution to the Scottish Government’s Improving Population Health Action Group which is seeking to learn lessons about the best way to get a pregnant smoker to quit.
NHS Forth Valley
Castle Business Park
t - 01786 463031