Reports show fall in pregnant female smokers

A NEW government report, published in early March, has revealed that alternatives to smoking such as electronic cigarettes, patches, gum and advice from health professionals, is starting to have a positive impact on the health of the nation.

Smoking during Pregnancy

Smoking during Pregnancy

For a long time, Scotland has been satirised in the media for the relative poor health of its population; however, the government has been implementing a long-term strategy to improve the health of the nation.
This strategy is already starting to see some results; the number of overall smokers in Scotland fell from 30.7 per cent in 1999 to 24.3 per cent in 2009, according to data collated as part of the Scottish Household Survey. The figures are, therefore, seemingly on track to meet the government target of 22 per cent by 2010.

There was, however, even better news for those who have been putting the anti-smoking message across to pregnant women. Since 1999 the number of women who smoked during pregnancy has fallen dramatically; it is now well below government targets.

Experts had tentatively forecast that the number of pregnant women smoking would be reduced by nine per cent between 1999 and 2009. The recently released data showed a far more positive result, indicating that the number of pregnant women smoking has fallen from 29 per cent in 2009 to 18.1 per cent in 2009; a drop of more than 11 per cent and well beyond initial forecasts.

Much of this change in attitude stems from a greater awareness of the risk to the unborn child during pregnancy from smoking. The improvement in obstetric care, including the opportunity to have not just an ultrasound but also a 3D scan of your baby, seems likely to have played a real part in changing these attitudes.

3d scan of baby

3d scan of baby

The reason for this is seemingly obvious; for many women the collection of grainy black and white photographs (which make up a traditional ultrasound) did not provide enough detail to make their pregnancy seem real enough, especially in the early stages. The improved scanners now available allow a patient to see their developing baby, during the course of a gender scan, with much more clarity and attention to detail.

This means that the development and birth of their child immediately becomes more meaningful to the mother. As such, this brings home the fact that baby is a tangible, real and living presence and that smoking runs the risk of harming their unborn child.

It seems that the marked fall in the numbers of pregnant smokers in Scotland is the cumulative effect of several factors: improved support and advice for pregnant Scottish mothers; detailed and conclusive research (that outlines the clear links of the negative effects of smoking on a newborn baby); better and more detailed obstetric care; and a government-led drive to encourage more prospective mothers to quit the habit.

Best of all, the report suggests that the message to quit smoking is getting across to this important section of smokers and is having a clear and measurable positive effect.

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