24/06/2010 08:49 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Should Pregnant Women Be Breath-Tested To See If They're Smokers?

A health watchdog has suggested that all pregnant women should be breath-tested to find out whether they are smokers.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) says this would just be to allow expectant mothers to get the proper advice for quitting.

They say women would not be penalised for smoking during pregnancy but would be able to discuss the issue with their midwife.

But midwives say pregnant women should not be made to feel guilty and should be encouraged to give up smoking in other ways.

Professor Mike Kelly, Nice director of the Centre of Public Health Excellence, said: "During pregnancy, smoking puts the health of the women and her unborn baby at great risk both in the short and long-term, and small children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems.

"One of our recommendations is for midwives to encourage all pregnant women to have their carbon monoxide levels tested and discuss the results with them.

"This isn't to penalise them if they have been smoking, but instead will be a useful way to show women that both smoking and passive smoking can lead to having high levels of carbon monoxide in their systems."

But Sue Macdonald, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) education and research manager, said the breath-test could make women feel "guilty".

She said: "Strategies for smoking cessation should apply to all women regardless of being pregnant. There is no doubt that most women are aware of the effects of smoking. The challenge is to reduce the numbers doing it."

We've all seen the heavily pregnant women puffing away outside hospital maternity units - and I bet many women don't let on to their midwives that they still smoke during pregnancy, which means they don't get any help to quit.

So I'm all in favour. What do you think?

Source: AOL News