By Lizzie Healey
Nearly 40 per cent of pregnant women who smoke have set a quit date for giving up within seven months of taking part in an incentive programme set up by the local Health Board.
And it has just been revealed also that new research has detailed greater risks for both baby and mother than previously thought due to maternal smoking.
Closer links have been discovered between maternal smoking in pregnancy and childhood hospitalisation, as well as medical conditions at birth which can result in lifelong ill health.
And have potentially devastating outcomes such as meningitis and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Carried out by Dr David Tappin, an NHSGGC consultant, the key findings of the study include estimates that 7% of deaths in the first month of life and 22% in the first year are related to maternal smoking during pregnancy.
Findings for children under the age of five show that 12% of hospital admissions for bacterial meningitis, 10% for bronchiolitis and 7% for asthma were also attributable to maternal smoking.
NHSGGC evidence estimates that each year in the UK smoking in pregnancy causes up to 5,000 miscarriages, 300 peri-natal deaths and around 2,200 premature births.
As a result, the Health Board in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll has made helping pregnant women to stop smoking a priority.
To help improve both their health and the health of their unborn babies, the Board supports pregnant smokers to give up in a number of ways through its Quit Your Way service.
The financial Incentives programme has been in place since July 2018 and so far a total of 213 people have set a quit date, equating to a 38% increase from the same period last year.
Also, the number who successfully stopped smoking four weeks after their quit date has more than doubled.
Dr Emilia Crighton, Public Health consultant, NHSGGC, said: “Smoking contributes to health inequalities and impacts on the health of both the mother and the baby.
“We were seeing that many pregnant women were struggling to quit smoking and we felt a fresh approach was needed.
“Many pregnant women who we talk to about the programme feel the incentives give them extra encouragement to stop smoking. The incentives give them a reward for successfully stopping smoking and staying stopped.
“The feedback we have received is that many of the women we support really appreciate receiving the incentives and the difference they can make. This allows them to buy important things for their baby and for their family.
“A good number of them told us they didn’t think they would have been able to stop smoking. Getting the support from the Quit Your Way Pregnancy Service advisors, and receiving the financial incentives, helped them to remain smoke free throughout their pregnancy and after the birth of their baby.”
Women who successfully participate in the programme receive a £160 Love2Shop voucher.
Further information on the Quit Your Way service is available from http://www.nhsggc.org.uk
NOTE: Pregnant women who live in the Board area and will be receiving their antenatal care are eligible for this scheme if they confirmed, when asked at maternity booking, that they are a current smoker (and have had this validated by CO breath test) will be eligible to take part.