Today a coalition of charities has called for Carbon Monoxide (CO) screening to be made available to all pregnant women.

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, which includes Tommy’s, the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, ASH and the Lullaby Trust, have today released a new report to health ministers highlighting that one baby dies every day as a result of mothers smoking during pregnancy.

The report calls for the implementation of NICE guidance on providing CO screening to all pregnant women to identify their levels of CO exposure, and better training for healthcare professionals in the effects of CO on unborn babies.

Jacqueline Clinton, Health Campaigns Director at the baby charity Tommy’s said The majority of women who smoke during pregnancy are in their teens and early twenties (1), and are often amongst those who are least likely to know about the dangers of smoking to their unborn child.

 “The taboo about smoking in pregnancy is so great that it’s hard for women to admit that they smoke, and for health professionals to then arm them with the knowledge that empowers them to make an informed decision about themselves, their lifestyle and their baby. While many of us know that we shouldn’t smoke while pregnant, few of us understand the reasons – that carbon monoxide starves babies of food and oxygen. Research by Tommy’s has found that women who armed with the specific facts, communicated in an appropriate way, are more motivated to quit.(2)

“Carbon Monoxide exposure isn’t just a result of smoking – women can have dangerous levels of CO in their blood from things like faulty heating and cooking appliances and have no idea that their baby is at risk. Offering monitoring tests to all women will also help identify those who are exposed to this chemical unawares, so that they can consider how to take action.”

 Tommy’s funds medical research into the prevention of premature birth, stillbirth and miscarriage. We provide advice and treatment through our clinics, website and publications, and our free helpline the PregnancyLine. We believe every pregnancy should have a happy ending and that every baby should have the best chance of being born healthy.