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Nurse-family partnership helps mums stop smoking and promotes breastfeeding

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The government’s nurse-family partnership pilots have shown some modest success in encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking and to breastfeed their babies, research from the University of London has found.

The study looked at 10 pilot sites which in a two week period visited 538 mothers and families. A total of 1,003 babies have been born to families included in the pilots in their first two years.

Of these, 63 per cent were initially breast fed and more than a third were still being breast fed at six weeks. The researchers said this was “promising in relation to rates identified in national surveys for socio-economically disadvantaged mothers” who are targeted by the pilots.

The researchers also noted a “relative reduction” in smoking amongst pregnant women in the scheme, although they found “substantial differences” between the 10 sites.

They said the success of the scheme was related to low staff turnover and support from the primary care trust and local authority. They found that on average, the cost was around £3,000 per family, which is in line with predicted costs.

There are currently 40 pilot sites across England and another 10 will be launched by January.

Health minister Ann Keen said: “As a nurse myself, I know how this programme is at the heart of our policy for improving the life chances of the most vulnerable children and their families.

“[It] is continuing to be delivered well and is having a real impact on some of the most vulnerable babies and families in our society. It gives us a real opportunity to prevent some of our most vulnerable children facing a lifetime of exclusion and failure.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Although the nurse-family partnership is acheiving this, at what cost is it? There is a dire shortage of qualified Health Visitors and a large number are now applying to be nurse-family partnership nurses, reducing the available number of health visitors proportionally. Most health visitors are unable to undertake any antenatal contacts - which if they did, have the potential to raise breastfeeding rates even further as by the time a health visitor undertakes a primary visit it is generally too late to influence breastfeeding much either way! Instead of trying to follow the USA which does not have Health visitors we should be training many more health visitors which would then enable this breastfeeding promotion to be provided to many, many more families. Perhaps offering a better salary (family-nurse partnership nurses currently are on a 7!) instead of the 6 they currently receive!!

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