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'Missed opportunities' to help pregnant women quit

General practice could do more to help women to quit smoking during pregnancy, a study has shown. 

Researchers from the University of Nottingham found that just one in ten pregnant smokers are prescribed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). 

And in the period just before pregnancy, only 5% were prescribed NRT. 

Through evaluating data from 388,142 pregnancies, researchers found that women were “more receptive” to smoking cessation interventions during pregnancy. 

Meetings between healthcare professionals and pregnant women should be used as “an opportunity to discuss and offer interventions to promote smoking cessation,” the authors wrote in the British Journal of General Practice. 

When NRT was prescribed, it was only for two weeks on average. The researchers said this amount is “unlikely to be effective”. The recommended treatment time is eight to 12 weeks. 

“The present study findings give insight into NRT prescribing in and around pregnancy, which is important for policy-makers and GPs to monitor and promote smoking cessation in females of childbearing age,” the researchers wrote. 

Around a quarter of mothers smoked just before or during their pregnancy, and 15% continued to smoke throughout, official figures show.