New bid to stop women in Northamptonshire smoking while pregnant

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A one-stop hub of resources to help healthcare professionals support pregnant women in Northamptonshire to give up smoking is being created.

Methods to encourage expectant smokers to quit their habit are being identified and new ones will be developed where gaps exist.

They will be pooled together as part of a training module and a manual for smoking cessation specialists who work with pregnant women, with a view to becoming integrated into standard NHS training programmes.

The initiative is being launched because research shows one-to-one support delivered by trained anti-smoking advisors generates positive results.

The project is being funded by NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East Midlands, an organisation which turns research into cost-saving and high-quality care through cutting-edge innovation.

Professor Tim Coleman, professor of primary care at the UK Centre for Alcohol and Tobacco Studies, University of Nottingham, who has led the project, said: “We believe using certain behavioural support techniques, which are relevant to the everyday lives of most pregnant smokers, will increase engagement and provide better results in terms of giving up.

“Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, low birth weight, sudden infant death and asthma in the child once born.

“Smokers are usually offered nicotine replacement therapies once they’ve fallen pregnant, but because pregnant women have much faster nicotine metabolism, NRT has a limited and at best borderline effect in pregnancy. We know that behavioural support from trained cessation advisors helps pregnant smokers to stop for good and we want to make the support pregnant women receive more relevant to them and more effective.”

The project is due to start this summer and the resources are expected to be launched in 2018.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 12 per cent of mothers were recorded as smokers at the time of delivery in 2014 in England. Every cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals which are harmful to the unborn baby. Cigarettes can also restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby, so their heart has to beat harder every time the mother lights up.