BACKGROUND: Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) in the antenatal and postnatal period is associated with a detrimental health impact to the foetus and newborn baby and is recognised as a preventable public health challenge. The aim of the mother's learning about secondhand smoke (MLASS) study was to test the feasibility of delivering and evaluating the effectiveness of a smoke-free homes (SFH) health education intervention in the antenatal and postnatal period to reduce foetal and newborn exposure to SHS.
METHODS: Pregnant women aged 17-40 years old who attended their first community-based antenatal appointment in Leeds, UK, were eligible to participate if they currently smoked, or if they were non-smokers but lived in a household where someone else smoked, or had regular visitors to the home who smoked. A SFH health education intervention was delivered at four time points by community midwives and health visitors. Outcome measures included self-reported level of household smoking restrictions and SHS exposure in pregnant women who did not smoke during pregnancy and in the newborn baby, measured by salivary and urine cotinine levels, respectively. We planned to conduct focus group discussions with participants and health professionals. A post hoc survey of pregnant women was conducted at the recruitment site.
RESULTS: Eight pregnant women were recruited over a 6-month recruitment period. Of the 65 eligible pregnant women approached, 57 (88 %) declined to participate in the study. The majority declined to participate due to lack of interest in the study. In the post hoc survey, the majority of pregnant women reported that they were already implementing household smoking restrictions to reduce SHS; only a small number had no household smoking restrictions.
CONCLUSIONS: The post hoc survey identified women who could benefit from a SFH intervention; therefore, future studies should consider what SFH means to pregnant women and may wish to target those not currently implementing household smoking restrictions. Future recruitment strategies in studies of an SFH intervention in the context of maternity service pressures needs careful consideration; this includes the capacity to undertake the research, the recruitment setting, the criteria for individuals requiring the intervention, and individuals' willingness to engage with such research.