‘Never too late’ for pregnant women to quit smoking say Southampton specialists

FERTILITY experts in Southampton have proved for the first time that it is never too late for mums-to-be to kick the habit and boost the health of their baby.

‘Never too late’ for pregnant women to quit smoking say Southampton specialists

‘Never too late’ for pregnant women to quit smoking say Southampton specialists

Even if a woman doesn’t give up smoking until the pregnancy is confirmed, specialists based at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust now have evidence to show that it still dramatically cuts the risk of complications at birth.

In the largest study of its kind, Professor Nick Macklon and his team at the Complete Fertility Centre and the Princess Anne Hospital studied the outcomes of 50,000 pregnancies.

They found that women who stopped smoking at the time of conception or when they discover that they are pregnant gave birth to babies with a similar weight to those born to mothers who had never smoked, slashing the risk of complications.

The study also revealed that health development during pregnancy without exposure to smoke also helps limit the chances of premature birth, which can cause brain damage and congenital defects, such as cleft lip.

Professor Macklon said: “Mothers who smoke are encouraged to stop smoking when they become pregnant but, to date, there was little evidence that giving up at this late stage could have a positive effect on birth weight, so we can now give couples hard proof that making the effort to stop smoking once pregnancy is confirmed is beneficial for their baby.”

The results, the first of their kind, were revealed at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Stockholm.

Professor Macklon also warned of the worrying trend of women who continue to smoke because they want to give birth to a smaller baby – despite overwhelming evidence of the consequences.

He said: “It is important that people who believe that a smaller baby means an easier birth take into account the increased risks of complicated deliveries in smokers as well as the risk of disease later in life which goes with low birth weight.”

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