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Quit helps pregnant women to stop smoking

Posted 8 Dec, 2020

More pregnant women and their partners will be supported to stop smoking with new Australian-first resources designed for their treating health professionals.

The resources – clinical guidelines and an online training package – have been produced by Quit and Alfred Health to help GPs, obstetricians, midwives and pharmacists have a simple conversation and provide best practice care so pregnant women and their partners can lead healthier lives for themselves and their babies. 

The clinical guidelines include Australian-first guidance from the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne on how to use nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy. 

One in ten pregnant women smoke. Across the country, that equates to some 30,000 births per year. 

Dr Sarah White, Quit Director, says that the impacts of smoking during pregnancy can be ‘devastating’.

“Not only is the woman’s health affected, there is a higher risk of miscarriage or stillbirth and of complications during birth,” she says.

“Babies born to women who smoke are more likely to be born prematurely and to face a higher risk of SUDI (sudden unexpected death in infancy, previously known as SIDS), weaker lungs and low birthweight, which can lead to health problems throughout childhood and into adulthood.”

Dr White said that providing partners of pregnant women with advice and support to quit was also important. 

“Exposure to secondhand smoke in the home can be just as dangerous. Having someone else around who smokes is like a woman smoking herself. Plus, it makes it much harder for the woman to quit.”

“Pregnant women and their partners who smoke don’t want judgement; they want help. We urge all health professionals to use the new resources to advise and provide help to pregnant women and their partners in an encouraging and supportive way,” says Dr White.

Co-developed by Quit, Alfred Health and The Royal Women’s Hospital to support the Safer Baby Bundle national stillbirth prevention program, the guidelines have been endorsed by RANZCOG, the Australian College of Midwives and the Stillbirth CRE. They are also recognised as an Accepted Clinical Resource by the RACGP. Quit and Alfred Health, in consultation with Safer Care Victoria and maternity clinicians, have also developed smoking cessation brief advice online training, which can be completed in an hour. Both of these resources are now available for GPs, obstetricians, midwives and pharmacists at quit.org.au/maternity.

View the short video below that outlines the new guidelines and training and why they are so important, or visit https://www.quit.org.au/articles/how-to-quit-when-pregnant/.


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