Pregnant women given incentives to quit smoking

Stock image of pregnant woman with doctor.

Image credit: iStock/A boy and the sea

Pregnant women will receive financial incentives and support to help them quit one of the most highly addictive habits, smoking cigarettes.

The new University of Adelaide trial will focus on expectant mothers in Adelaide’s northern suburbs who are accessing antenatal care at the Lyell McEwin Hospital and Modbury Hospital.

Eligible participants who successfully stop smoking during the trial will receive up to $600 in gift vouchers throughout their pregnancy to see if the financial incentives encourage them to quit.

“A high proportion of women who receive antenatal care in Adelaide’s northern suburbs continue to smoke cigarettes and we need to find new ways of helping women quit,” said principal investigator Associate Professor Lisa Smithers from the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

“Internationally, financial incentives have successfully helped pregnant women to stop smoking and we’re interested to see if the same strategy could work here in South Australia.”

Smoking during pregnancy can lead to serious complications for both mothers and babies, including miscarriage and premature labour. Babies born are also twice as likely to have a low birth weight, putting them at higher risk of death, infections, breathing problems and other health issues later in life.

“Internationally, financial incentives have successfully helped pregnant women to stop smoking and we’re interested to see if the same strategy could work here in South Australia.”Associate Professor Lisa Smithers, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide.

Nicotine is highly addictive, making it hard for people to quit. Previous research has also shown that some factors can make it even more challenging to quit, including socioeconomic status, social circles and levels of tobacco dependence. The changes that happen to the body during pregnancy can also make it more difficult.

Participants in this trial will be required to breathe into a carbon monoxide monitor, which increases in response to smoking tobacco.

“All of the pregnant women involved in the trial will be provided with information about support and quitting methods that can be used safely during pregnancy,” said Associate Professor Smithers.

“Only those who successfully stop smoking will receive the gift vouchers and the amounts will vary depending on when they quit during their pregnancy.”

Along with regular testing, the participants will be required to complete several short questionnaires about their smoking habits, previous attempts to quit and their financial wellbeing. They will also be asked questions relating to anxiety and depression.

Researchers intend to follow up with participants six months after their baby is born to check their smoking status and measure their baby’s height, weight, and head circumference.

Recruitment is continuing for the trial, which is expected to run for several years. Any women who are in their first half of pregnancy, who smoke and are having their baby at the Lyell McEwin Hospital can express their interest through this link:

Tagged in featured story, pregnancy, smoking, antenatal care, babies, hospital, research, clinical trials, addiction, nicotine, financial incentives, health