Expectant mothers in the U.K. will be asked to take breath tests to show whether or not they have been smoking during their pregnancies, according to a number of media stories.
About 20 percent of women are estimated to smoke while pregnant, which is said to lead to low birth weights and to cause complications in pregnancy and labor.
Under NHS (National Health Service) guidance, pregnant women will be asked to take a test for carbon monoxide during antenatal appoints and given help to quit if levels are too high.
Vitamin C might help prevent lung problems in babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy, according to a small new study reported by HealthDay.
Pregnant women are advised not to smoke because it can harm their babies’ lungs and lead to problems such as wheezing and asthma. But if a pregnant woman can’t quit smoking, taking vitamin C might help protect her baby’s lungs.
“The study included 159 women who were less than 22 weeks pregnant and unable to quit smoking,” the story reported. “They were randomly assigned to take either one 500-milligram capsule of vitamin C or a placebo each day for the remainder of their pregnancy.
“Forty-eight hours after birth, babies born to women who took vitamin C had significantly better lung function than those whose mothers took the placebo. During their first year, wheezing was reported in 21 percent of infants whose mothers took vitamin C and in 40 percent of infants whose mothers took the placebo. The rate among infants born to non-smokers was 27 percent.”
The preliminary study, which showed an association between vitamin C use and better lung function in infants but did not prove a cause-and-effect link, was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting in Washington, DC.
“Vitamin C is a simple, safe and inexpensive treatment that may decrease the impact of smoking during pregnancy on childhood respiratory health,” said lead author Dr. Cynthia McEvoy, an associate professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University Children’s Hospital.
Meanwhile, study co-author, Dr. Eliot Spindel, a senior scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University, said that getting women to quit smoking during pregnancy had to be priority one. “… but this finding provides a way to potentially help the infants born of the roughly 50 percent of pregnant smokers who won’t or can’t quit smoking no matter what is tried,” he added.