Doctors Could Start Testing Women to See if They Smoke

woman smokingShould pregnant women smoke? Absolutely not. Research has shown time and again the harmful effects it can have on a developing baby. But should all pregnant women be given breath tests to make sure that they're not lighting up when no one is looking? The answer again -- absolutely not.

In Britain, however, that's just what they may be doing. According to the Telegraph, the country's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recommended that all women be tested during prenatal appointments. Women who are found to have high carbon monoxide levels would be referred to programs to help them quit.


According to the Telegraph, the guidance states:

Some pregnant women find it difficult to say that they smoke because the pressure not to smoke during pregnancy is so intense. This, in turn, makes it difficult to ensure they are offered appropriate support. A carbon monoxide test is an immediate and non-invasive biochemical method for helping to assess whether or not someone smokes.

In theory it sounds harmless, and perhaps even helpful, but the truth is that it's a pretty slippery slope toward the overzealous policing of pregnant women. What's next, tests to see if women have been eating too much fast food? One to make sure they're resting and taking prenatal vitamins?

The fact is that almost everything a pregnant woman does has some impact on her unborn baby. Most of us do the best we can to ensure their health, but none of us is perfect, and to start having doctors act as interrogators isn't going to be healthy for anyone. It could lead to women avoiding doctor appointments and not confiding in their caregivers when they should.

We may not like the choices some women make while carrying their children, but unless it's something illegal or intentionally and directly harmful, that choice should still be theirs.

Do you think pregnant women should be tested for smoking?

Image via JavierPsilocybin/Flickr

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