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Findings Series 19 - Smoking status in pregnant women

Date: March 2009
Category: Briefing Paper
Work programme: Smoking
Author: GCPH

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This briefing paper outlines the findings from a study which explored the impact that the reliance on self-reporting of smoking status during pregnancy has on both the access to smoking cessation services and the accuracy of smoking prevalence figures.

This study focussed on assessing three main factors:

  • The proportion of pregnant smokers not known and therefore unable to be referred for specialist smoking cessation services;
  • The accuracy of self-report of current smoking at maternity booking; and
  • The number of women who are smokers, but are not known to be so at congenital anomaly screening at 15 weeks gestation. 


The study found that 18.2% (over 2,500) of pregnant smokers in Scotland are undetected by self-report each year and are therefore unlikely to be referred to routinely available specialist smoking cessation services.  A greater proportion of less deprived smokers go undetected, but they make up a smaller number of all undetected smokers.  This paper also summarises recommendations for action based on the findings.