Shock tactics can help to get mums-to-be to stub it out

STEVE CANAVAN: My condition is a right old pain in the neck

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What do you do when people just don’t take notice of warnings about what they’re doing to their health?

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs midwifery services in south east Hampshire, is trying shock tactics.

The hope is that by showing pregnant women the damage they’re doing to their unborn children by smoking, they’ll realise the risks and quit the habit.

We certainly support any attempts to get mums-to-be to understand the dangers of smoking.

Because this isn’t about isolated cases – we reveal today how figures from Portsmouth City Council show 17.3 per cent of women in the city smoke during pregnancy. The national average is 12.7 per cent and in Hampshire the figure is 11.8 per cent.

A breathalyser-style test showing how much toxic carbon monoxide is in their system and that of their unborn child could be the way to get the message home.

Imagine being confronted by high readings and the realisation that you’re potentially harming your child while he or she is still in the womb.

The facts are that for every cigarette a mum-to-be has, it counts as two for the unborn baby because they react more to the carbon monoxide. So your actions could end up causing a miscarriage, stillbirth, a difficult labour or premature birth.

We all know that stopping smoking can be very difficult, but surely that information could be the spur to stub it out.

Nobody’s expecting women to do it alone. Those with high readings will be referred to stop smoking services to help them. That’s a sensible, joined-up approach.

The only downside is that women can opt out of having the CO test. So the most stubborn or ignorant mums-to-be, who either don’t care or just don’t realise the problems they could be causing by lighting up, will not be confronted by the potential consequences of their actions.

But we look forward to others being given the incentive they need to stop smoking – and make the lives of them and their babies much healthier.

To read more coverage on this issue click here and here.