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Partner support can help pregnant women quit smoking 

Smoking cessation practitioners believe having a supportive partner can make a difference in helping pregnant women to quit smoking, new research by a team of East Midlands researchers has found.

According to the NHS, 13 per cent of females in England smoke and around 10.5 per cent continue the habit when they become pregnant.  

In response, the team – funded by National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East Midlands – explored the best ways of how to support women and help them successfully give up smoking during their pregnancy.

They found that, according to smoking cessation practitioners, partners, who lend their support, can be hugely beneficial. The findings, published in the June edition of the journal Addictive Behaviors Reports, also indicate that having a close friend, relative or non-smoking ‘buddy’ to offer encouragement and assistance can also be helpful for women who do not have a partner, or whose partner may be less willing to offer support.

Researcher Libby Fergie, from Division of Primary Care, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, said: “Continued smoking during pregnancy poses substantial health risks to both the mother and baby. For example, the mothers’ risks of having an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage are increased and the babies can become more prone to having growth problems, developing asthma or becoming a smoker later in life.

“We wanted to find out the best ways of how to support women and help them successfully give up smoking during their pregnancy. We did this mainly by collecting the views from health care professionals, throughout England, based on their experiences of offering stop smoking support to pregnant clients.

“We found that good support given by a partner in a quit attempt can be particularly useful, especially if the partner is trying to stop smoking too. For women who do not have a partner, or whose partner may be less willing to offer support, having a close friend, relative or non-smoking ‘buddy’ to offer encouragement and assistance can also be helpful. Overall, although pregnant women can sometimes be reluctant to receive stop smoking support from a healthcare professional, those who do receive this type of support tend to find it really useful and are more likely to successfully stop smoking.”

Strong research has previously shown that one-to-one behavioural support delivered by trained smoking advisors helps pregnant smokers to stop, however response rates are varied. 

That is why the research team wanted to further explore some of the challenges that pregnant smokers might be facing and how they can be solved. 

All the findings from the study are being collected and will be used to form the basis of anti-smoking programmes to be integrated into standard NHS training initiatives. 

NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands is a partnership of the NHS, universities, patients and industry which sets out to improve patient outcomes by conducting research of local relevance and international quality. 

To access the study, click here.

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