Hospitals Will Start Testing Pregnant Women To See If They're Smoking From July
The new carbon monoxide tests will see if pregnant women or their partners smoke as medics try to cut the numbers of stillbirths in the UK.
Mums-to-be will receive the tests from midwives and doctors at their 12 week and 36 week screenings.
At the moment, more and one-in-ten women are said to smoke throughout their pregnancy, which equates to 65,000 women in England. But, many of these women don't admit their smoking habits to their doctors - a move which is set to change with the introduction of these tests.
The plans aim to identify more women who are still smoking during their pregnancy so they can be offered specialist help to quit within 24 hours.
Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to stillbirths and heart defects as well as a host of other medical problems for newborns.
Second hand smoke can also affect the health of a child and the new test aims to find out if the pregnant woman's partner smokes or if they live in a smoke-free household.
Some hospitals currently offer smoking tests at the 12 week point, however now all NHS hospitals will be made to carry out tests at 12 and 36 weeks. The NHS is hoping to cut stillbirths by 50 per cent by 2025.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told The Times: "The number of women smoking in pregnancy is at a record low, but too many women still suffer the tragedy of stillbirth as a result of smoking.
"Today's plans are about our continuing commitment to do everything in our power to address this, by supporting mums-to-be to quit, in pregnancy and for good."
Simon Stevens, chief Executive of NHS England, added: "Stillbirth is heartbreaking, which is why the NHS, through the skill and professionalism of our midwives, nurses and doctors, is taking actions to ensure an even greater number of parents and babies experience a healthy birth."
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