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If you've ever seen an episode of Mad Men, you probably know that it wasn't that long ago when no one knew it was a bad idea to smoke during pregnancy. But today, I think it's safe to say that most of us know that puffing cigs is bad for baby. Specifically, it increases the risk of low birth weight, premature birth and miscarriage. And kids who grow up with parents who smoke are at an increased risk for respiratory health problems such as asthma.
But British moms-to-be might need an extra push, suggests the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). (We covered this group earlier this week, when they suggested that sex ed start at age 5!) NICE says that women should be given a breath test to check their carbon monoxide levels (which are high when you smoke) at their first prenatal check-up. That way, they can be properly counseled on the negative effects that smoking can have on their pregnancy.
I'm sure this is also essential information for the OBs and midwives, who can easily know which patients are at risk for certain pregnancy complications. It sounds like many women haven't been too honest with their healthcare providers. But do we really need to subject everyone to a test? Can't doctors counsel moms-to-be on the dangers of smoking when they advise them not to eat high-mercury fish or to sit in hot tubs? Then, once they're informed, women can make the choice to do what's best for the health of their baby.