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New report warns of smoking hazards for pregnant women

12 June, 2008

New report warns of smoking hazards for pregnant women

Smoking causes thousands of miscarriages and cases of cervical cancer in women and impotence in over 100 000 young men, a new report warns.

Midwives magazine: March 2004

 

Smoking causes thousands of miscarriages and cases of cervical cancer in women and impotence in over 100 000 young men, a new report warns.

 

The report, published last month by the British Medical Association (BMA), advises that smokers should stop when trying for a baby. It also recommends fully paid leave for pregnant women whose employers cannot guarantee a smoke free zone. It says healthcare professionals should be telling pregnant women to stop smoking and offer pharmacotherapy prescriptions and specialist support services.

 

This report presents the first focused overview of the impact of smoking on sexual, reproductive and child health in the UK. It looks at the effect of active and passive smoking on both men and women, and summarises its impact on sexual health, conception, pregnancy, and the reproductive system. The effect of smoking on infant and child health is also considered.

 

The report goes on to flag up the benefits of smoking cessation. It outlines the present situation in the UK with regard to both active and passive smoking throughout the life course, and how smoking prevention and alleviates illness.

 

The report makes several key recommendations as to reducing the burden of sexual, reproductive and childhood ill health caused by tobacco, including recommendations for research, healthcare professionals and public policy.

 

The BMA stresses that healthcare professionals have a responsibility to provide accurate information on the risks smoking poses, both to the health of the smoker and to those around them. It urges that smokers be given clear advice to stop smoking, and offered suitable support, including prescription of pharmacotherapies and referral to specialist services. The report flags up the need for better support for women who stop smoking during pregnancy, the majority of whom start again when the baby is born.

 

There are also recommendations for the government, which include more ambitious targets for reducing overall smoking rates. The BMA also warns that renewed efforts will be needed to achieve reduction targets among adults in Wales – present trends suggest they are unlikely to be met.

 

The BMA says the prevalence of smoking in relevant population groups must be more accurately assessed if the effectiveness of smoking reduction policies is to be judged. Survey data should be validated using biological markers, such as cotinine testing or carbon monoxide monitoring.

 

Anonymous cotinine testing of routine blood samples from pregnant women should be considered to establish a more accurate picture of smoking during pregnancy. The BMA also highlights the priority of protecting children from second-hand smoke in the home.

 

Reference

BMA Board of Science and Education and Tobacco Control Resource Centre. (2004) Smoking and reproductive life: the impact of smoking on sexual, reproductive and child health. Downloadable from: www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/ content/smokingreproductivelife 

 


 

 

 


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