Pregnant women need more help to quit smoking

Midwives and doctors should do more to encourage pregnant women to give up smoking, research suggests. A survey by the Auckland Tobacco Control Research Centre (ATCRC) at The University of Auckland showed that only 11% of midwives and 71% of GPs suggest women abstain completely from smoking during pregnancy.

The results of the survey are published in this week’s New Zealand Medical Journal.

Around 150 GPs and 200 midwives from across New Zealand took part in the Ministry of Health funded survey. The results showed that GPs were the primary step in confirming pregnancy and 84.5% routinely recorded smoking status, with 71% advising complete abstinence from smoking during pregnancy. Of midwives, 98% routinely asked about smoking status, although only 11% recommended smoking abstinence, instead recommending a reduction in smoking. Whilst both groups provide cessation counselling, half were likely to recommend nicotine patches as a replacement therapy rather than intermittent delivery methods recommended for pregnant women, including nicotine gum, inhalers and lozenges.

“GPs and midwives are in a pivotal position to offer smoking advice to pregnant women, when motivation to quit is at its highest,” says Dr Marewa Glover, Director of the ATCRC. “However, the message that smoking abstinence is vital for the health of the developing child does not seem to be consistently delivered, particularly by midwives. More needs to be done to ensure that pregnant women are given the help they need to quit smoking, including promotion of nicotine replacement mechanisms, such as gum, inhalers and lozenges, as a means to quit.”

The Auckland Tobacco Control Research Centre, based at The University of Auckland, is a network of University researchers and external organisations, including ASH, National Heart Foundation, public health services and independent researchers, looking at methods to decrease smoking and associated health problems in New Zealand.

Source: University of Auckland, New Zealand

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