A pregnant woman from Southend has been telling Southend News Network that she was ‘shocked’ when her GP advised her to take up smoking – she was allegedly given this advice when attending her local surgery to register for midwife services. 

Anna Sioh, 24, contacted our Newsdesk to explain how the appointment with Dr Nadia Silcut at Westcliff Heights Surgery had left her feeling angry, confused and upset. 

She said: ‘I went to my doctor full of excitement about getting pregnant, but as soon as I sat down she asked me if I smoked – I expected to be given a number of reasons to quit.’

‘When I told her that I have never smoked before, she then advised me that it would be a good idea to take it up throughout my pregnancy – I sat there with my jaw on the floor.’

‘She explained that new research shows how smoking can benefit a child’s development in the womb, but I wasn’t really listening at this point as I was completely stunned. You expect to leave a surgery with a prescription for the chemist, not directions to the local off licence.’

‘I have decided to book an appointment with a different GP for a second opinion.’

We contacted the Westcliff Heights Surgery for a comment, and Dr Sioh was happy to talk to Southend News Network. 

She said: ‘I usually agree with official NHS guidance in all areas of health and wellbeing, but when it comes to smoking and pregnancy we have very different opinions.’

‘I have read extensively into a 2015 paper from Professor Daniel Benson of the University of West Essex about the effects of smoking on a developing infant, and it makes a strong case for smoking right up to a baby’s due date.’

‘The research shows that although a baby will initially find it difficult to handle the chemicals, the lungs will react and strengthen over time to resist tar, nicotine and other ingredients.’

‘His colleague Professor Marion Hedges also found that children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are 58% less likely to take it up during childhood and early adulthood due to ‘repressed negative reception sentiments’ from their time in the womb.’

‘Therefore, I have no regrets about passing this advice onto my patients, and I will consider to do so until fresh medical research shows me otherwise.’

‘Another study is underway to show how alcohol during pregnancy can have the same effect. My initial thought is that there will be a positive outcome, and I am confident that I will be proved right.’