Smoking during pregnancy is a controversial issue that gets anti-smoking puritans frothing at the mouth. In Blackpool they are taking a proactive stance by screening mothers-to-be for carbon monoxide in their blood. I’ll let Emma Harris of the Evening Gazette take up the narrative.
WOMEN are now being screened for signs of a deadly chemical as part of Blackpool’s bid to cut the number of mums-to-be smoking.
The resort still has the highest rate in the country of pregnant women who light up – at 29 per cent.
I hope these chemical checks are being performed with the permission of the women concerned. After all, according to the statistics, more than 70% of pregnant women in Blackpool don’t smoke making nearly three quarters of the tests redundant and a waste of resources if the screening is involuntary. Unfortunately Ms Harris doesn’t elucidate.
But health bosses say this is the first time the figure has been below 30 per cent since records began.
Nor does Ms Harris expand on when records began so we have no idea what percentage of pregnant women smoked prior to this. The percentage of so called deprived families increased when local housing associations started accepting hell knows how many problem families from other deprived parts of Lancashire, especially Liverpool and Manchester. There is also a growing East European migrant population that appears to enjoy smoking. It seems the figures don’t discriminate between locals and incomers. For all I know the local born smokers could be trending towards the national average.
Smoking while pregnant poses a higher risk of serious health problems to the unborn child, including low birth weight, pre-term birth, placental complications and even still-birth.
Presumably Blackpool health bosses have strong evidence to support this higher risk claim of serious anti and post natal health problems due to women smoking during pregnancy. Stronger than the weasel word poses that is. Let’s see the statistics of birth complications linked directly to smoking. Blackpool, with nearly a third of pregnant women sucking on cancer sticks, should be bursting at the seams with neo-natal victims and smoking induced maternity misery. It isn’t.
Nationally, the average rate of women who admitted smoking during pregnancy during 2011/12 was 13 per cent.
[Insert sound of gramophone needle being clumsily and noisily removed from record track]
What about the women who didn’t admit to smoking whilst pregnant? Having seen how women like Stacey Solomon suffer public demonisation by the Witchfinders General anti-smoking puritans for indulging in a habit that is legal, how many pregnant women are willing to admit they smoke? The average rate of women who admit to smoking during pregnancy, in a nation where the government and media actively collude to discriminate against smokers, is only as good as the honesty of the women who were polled. Unless of course we are to believe that pregnant women are somehow incapable of lying to protect themselves from the baying, finger-pointing, Cromwellian masses.
Fran Frankland, lead for reducing tobacco use in pregnancy with NHS Blackpool, said measures had been taken to try to tackle the problem.
Fran Frankland’s time would be better spent reducing drug abuse during pregnancy which is a far greater concern in Blackpool than lighting up a fag.
Blackpool, which has high levels of deprivation, has a high rate of smokers across the general population.
Obviously not so deprived they can’t afford to smoke…
She said a new scheme started in October which saw midwives trained to screen women for carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas in cigarette smoke, which takes the place of oxygen in the blood and causes damage to the body.
There is a national shortage of midwives in the NHS which is said to be at crisis point yet their precious time can be co-opted to assuage the demands of the anti-smoking lobby?
She said: “If they test positive, they are automatically referred to our specialist stop smoking service for support.
If they test positive? So they are wasting vital resources testing non-smokers then?
They can opt out of this at any time of course, but the door is always left open for them to come back at any time.
But can they opt out of the initial screening if they don’t want it? Once a smoker’s guilty secret is out how hard are they pressured into taking up this optional specialist service? Are they supplied with a pamphlet stuffed with tactically ambiguous ifs, coulds and mights so that they can make up their own minds?
They are given information on the risks of smoking during pregnancy, so if a woman does choose to opt out, it’s not because she doesn’t know or isn’t aware of the issues. It’s for some other reason.
That other reason being - mind your own damned business? People are sick and tired of being lectured and harangued by self-righteous busybodies. Are you even listening Fran Frankland?
This has been really useful for us to identify women who are smoking.
So they don’t take a woman’s word for it unless it comes disguised as the national average. Does this mean the test on Blackpool women is involuntary? Who the hell do these people think they are?
We don’t have a specialist midwife here in Blackpool purely for women who smoke during pregnancy, because of the large numbers, but we do have a specialist stop smoking clinic.
Does any hospital have a midwife purely for women who smoke during pregnancy? And why does Blackpool need a “specialist” stop smoking clinic? One that seemingly approves the implementation of involuntary medical procedures on pregnant women to justify what? Jobs for the girls and boys? At what cost? And on who’s say so? What ever happened to the much cheaper GP’s advice to not smoke during pregnancy and let the patient make up her own mind?
I think sometimes for some women, it’s a bit like the chances of winning the Lottery - they just don’t think it will happen to them.
What won’t happen to them? Giving birth to an underweight or premature baby? Because it never happens to non-smoking mothers? Ever?
It’s trying to help them understand it may not have happened to their mum, or in their previous pregnancy, but it could still happen.
Of course it could still happen. It can happen to anyone- smoker and non-smoker. So the point being made here is…?
It costs more than £10,000 to deliver what is termed as a complicated birth - in women who smoke during pregnancy, the placenta can be broken down, causing birth complications.
More weasel words. So let’s see the figures on difficult births. How many can be directly attributed to smoking?
As the rate of women smoking in pregnancy has dropped by 3.5 per cent - that’s roughly a decrease of 48 women - there has been a potential saving of close to £500,000.
So how much extra did the remaining 96.5% of smokers cost in real terms? Since only the potential saving was quoted I’m going to hazard a guess and say the actual additional cost of whelping a smoker in Blackpool is close to a big fat zero. If it was otherwise the health officials wouldn’t be scraping the bottom of the reality barrel in order to brag about apocryphal savings.
Ms Frankland added: “That’s without the emotional cost of babies having to be rushed off into neo-natal care.
Maybe Ms Frankland should refrain from adding the emotional cost of alarmism to the stress of pregnancy in order to justify her salary.
“The work we’ve been doing is starting to have an effect so hopefully it will now grow.”
The numbers of women smoking during pregnancy has fallen dramatically over several decades. However, Ms Frankland feels duty bound to justify the expansion of her “specialist” service. I prefer to call it rent seeking.
Dr Arif Rajpura, director of public health, added: “We have been working very hard on this for several years now.
“It is very gratifying to see the downward trend as this means far more babies get a healthy start in life.”
Having a statistic that is more than double the (questionable) national average is something to be gratified about, I can see that now. As for more babies getting a healthy start in life - says who? There are no end of strapping lads and lasses born into families who smoke. There are sick children born into families who do not smoke, drink or abuse drugs. Are the lifestyles of non-smokers blamed for their afflicted newborns? Or is it that filthy smokers offend the senses of the puritans and must be punished and vilified at every level of society? The most reviled of all being the consenting adult female who indulges a certain legal habit during pregnancy.
The days of trust me, I’m a doctor are long gone because the profession has lost all credibility through empty alarmism and sanctimonious nannyism. So let’s see the evidence, medical profession. Crusading rhetoric isn’t proof. Neither is spinning non-existant potential savings. I sure hope doctors and other clinical staff are not advocating the non-consensual testing of pregnant women for CO at the behest of government sponsored pressure groups even if it’s for the perceived own good of patients. Health fascism and political correctness have no place in medicine. The NHS exists to try and heal people, not to crush freedom of choice beneath its dictatorial heel. So please do stop singing your imperious, we-know-best song because people, whether you like it or not, are not the sheep you want them to be.