Call for pregnant smokers test
All pregnant women should have breath tests to see whether they are smokers or not, a health watchdog has said.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said that every expectant mother should be encouraged to have a carbon monoxide test to see whether they smoke so they can get the appropriate advice for quitting.
However, the recommendation was criticised by midwives who said that medical practitioners should encourage women to quit smoking instead of making them feel guilty.
The watchdog said the new guidelines are not aimed at penalising smokers but hope to help women and their families give up smoking during and after pregnancy.
Nice director of the centre of public health excellence Professor Mike Kelly said: "During pregnancy, smoking puts the health of the women and her unborn baby at great risk both in the short and long-term, and small children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems.
"One of our recommendations is for midwives to encourage all pregnant women to have their carbon monoxide levels tested and discuss the results with them.
"This isn't to penalise them if they have been smoking, but instead will be a useful way to show women that both smoking and passive smoking can lead to having high levels of carbon monoxide in their systems."
However, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) education and research manager Sue Macdonald said the use of the breath test may make women feel "guilty".
Ms Macdonald said: "Strategies for smoking cessation should apply to all women regardless of being pregnant. There is no doubt that most women are aware of the effects of smoking. The challenge is to reduce the numbers doing it."
The RCM welcomed the guidelines because reducing smoking helps the health of women and their babies but is also sceptical about the use of the breath test monitors because of cost.