Gateshead Health leading the way in supporting pregnant smokers and their families to QUIT

Smoking at any time lead’s to many serious complications, but smoking while pregnant can cause serious problems for the pregnant person and their unborn child. Gateshead Health’s QUIT team are helping expecting mothers and their families who smoke to make a healthy lifestyle change for themselves and their baby.

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and has many other devastating consequences. People who smoke while pregnant increase their risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, low birth weight, still birth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The effects of tobacco use in pregnancy can result in a more complicated labour and smoking in pregnancy can impact negatively during their child’s early development, additionally children who have parents that smoke are more likely to smoke themselves. The longer smoking continues, the higher the risk. These risks can be significantly reduced by stopping smoking.

Thankfully, the QUIT team are on hand at the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital to support expectant mothers and their families to stop smoking. Maternity runs an automatic referral system where pregnant people who smoke are contacted by the QUIT team within one working day of being referred. This referral method takes into account the guidance of Saving Babies Lives, a care bundle for reducing perinatal mortality, and also The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations.

GHNT QUIT team. Karina McGuire (maternity health adviser), Barbara Lynam (Service lead), Sharon Nichols (Advisor lead)
Karina McGuire (maternity health adviser), Barbara Lynam (Service lead), Sharon Nichols (Advisor lead)

Barbara Lynam, Tobacco Dependency Treatment Service Strategic Lead said: “We understand that tobacco use is an addiction and that it can be difficult to stop smoking but with support and a personal treatment programme being smokefree is achievable. We have supported hundreds of our pregnant women, their families, and our inpatients to beat their tobacco dependency. We will reach the NHS Long Term Plan ambition to reduce the national smoking rate to less than 5% by 2030, and we have significantly contributed to this reduction since we have been operational.”

One of the main aids to quitting smoking is via using nicotine replacement aids, such as nicotine patches and electronic vapes. The evidence based on vaping shows a significant reduction in harm when used as a method to stopping using tobacco.

Vaping negates the carbon monoxide exposure reducing the harm reduction risk to around 5% whereas tobacco use is 100% harmful, toxic and extremely dangerous. Second-hand smoke can be equally as devastating.

The QUIT team not only provides support for expectant mothers and their families in Gateshead, but can also work with with all inpatients at the QE. The team works in collaboration with Gateshead Local Authority, NENC ICB, and Gateshead Health staff as well as working with key services in the community to help patients to kick the habit.