New factsheet focuses on ABC approach for pregnant women
posted by Research Admin on 15 April 2011
The ABC approach to smoking cessation is effective across multiple population groups. A factsheet about the harm caused by smoking in pregnancy, and how to advise pregnant women who smoke, is now available on the Health Improvement and Innovation Resource Centre (HIIRC) website.
'ABC' is a memory aid for health care workers, describing the key steps to helping people who smoke:
1. Ask all people about their smoking status and document this.
2. Provide brief advice to stop smoking to all people who smoke, regardless of their desire or motivation to quit.
3. Make an offer of, and refer to or provide, evidence-based cessation treatment.
"This is about supporting the people working in maternity services to intervene effectively every time smoking is identified," says the Ministry of Health's Tobacco Health Target Champion Karen Evison.
"Addressing smoking in pregnancy should be a major priority for anyone in the healthcare sector – we almost view it as a medical emergency."
The Government's health target says 90 percent of hospitalised smokers will be provided with advice and help to quit smoking by July 2011, and 95 percent by July 2012.
"For every mother that gives up smoking during pregnancy, two lives are potentially saved."
Ms Evison says the Ministry has been working around the clock to provide as much assistance as possible to enable the country's District Health Boards (DHBs) to meet the deadline for the health target.
"For every mother that gives up smoking during pregnancy, two lives are potentially saved. It's a short window of opportunity but the positive effects of supporting someone to quit during pregnancy last for the child's lifetime," she says.
The key messages in the factsheet describe the adverse effects of smoking while pregnant, including increased risks of:
- ectopic pregnancy
- spontaneous abortion
- placenta insufficiency
- low birth weight babies
- preterm delivery
- Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI)
- childhood respiratory disease
- attention deficit disorder.
The Director of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research, Dr Marewa Glover, says the ABC approach should help to reach more pregnant women who smoke.
She says one in five women will be able to spontaneously quit smoking when they find out they're pregnant.
"Some women just go off anything toxic," she says. "Morning sickness puts some women off smoking, they can't stand the smell of smoke. Their body rejects smoking."
Other women are not so fortunate, with giving up smoking much more of a struggle. Dr Glover says Māori women in particular have high rates of smoking during their childbearing years.
The challenge, she says, is to get cessation support to women as soon after confirmation of pregnancy as possible. Some women don't go to a doctor in the first months of pregnancy so all Māori women of childbearing age need to be supported to quit at every opportunity to reduce smoking rates before they become pregnant.
"We need to reach them through the other services they're accessing in those first few months," says Dr Glover. "We need community-based services for Māori women and ideally their families would be geared up to help them stop smoking too. We need to make it a whānau thing."
This article appeared in the HIIRC Update, April 2011
Related articles from that issue: