Most of the time doctors tend to concentrate on the harmful effects of tobacco on the growing fetus during pregnancy. They, therefore, focus their energy in motivating would be mother to give up smoking. However, they tend to forget that the effect of second hand smoke on the new born baby is equally deleterious. Post partum stress, infant irritability and breastfeeding failure may all prompt the new mother to resume smoking without realizing that it could harm her baby. The doctors are beginning to understand the importance of counseling the new parents about the harmful effects of smoking.
According to a plot trial, called “Newborns Excel Without Secondhand Smoke (NEWS)”, postpartum hospital stay is the best time to counsel the parents to give up smoking. The trial, led by Jonathan P. Winickoff and colleagues from Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, enrolled 101 new parents who were smokers or had recently quit smoking. Half of them were counseled to quit smoking and got an invitation to enroll in a telephone quit line. Their obstetrician, pediatrician and primary health care provider were also roped in to devise strategies to motivate the parents to give up smoking. The parents were followed up for a period of 14 months following the delivery of their babies. Almost 64% parents were found to make an attempt to quit smoking as compared to only 18% from the control group. The researchers found that hospital stay is the best time to convince new fathers to quit smoking. Almost 75% of the fathers who were counseled during this period enrolled in the quit line. It was concluded that hospital stay following the delivery of the baby is the best time for both mothers and fathers to enroll into tobacco treatment services and it often yields positive results.
Mothers are counseled about the ill effects of smoking throughout their pregnancy. But the fathers are seldom present during these sessions. However, most of the fathers are present during the hospitalization of mother and infant. Doctors have realized that implementing tobacco control strategies during this post partum phase will enable them to motivate a large number of smokers, who become parents each year, to give up smoking.