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No IVF for Cornish Smokers

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7:02am 8th March 2012

Cornish couples who smoke are banned from getting fertility treatment on the NHS.

Health bosses say it hits success rates and can harm the baby.

Parents who want IVF will have to quit smoking for at least six months beforehand.

People who are significantly underweight or overweight, with a BMI of less than 19 or more than 29, will also be affected by the policy.

Critics are concerned the measures are to save money. Pro-smoking groups are calling it "discrimination."

Lorna Burns from Ashton near Helston went through IVF to have her first child. At the time, IVF was not available on the NHS in Cornwall, so Lorna travelled to London for the treatment.

Lorna says she thinks the measures are fair: "It's a difficult one because smoking is a lifestyle choice, but if you're thinking about the health of any baby that you may be lucky enough to conceive, then I think that you should do everything in your power to make yourself as health as you can before you conceive and when you're pregnant.

"I know several people that have gone through IVF, and I don't know any of them that smoke, or any of their partners that smoke. You have to provide it for the people who are prepared to do their bit to get pregnant and if that means giving up smoking, then that's what they have to do."

Dr Virginia Pearson is Chair of the South West Peninsula Commissioning Priorities Group. In a statement, she said: "Smoking reduces the chances of IVF succeeding. The policy recommended for couples wishing to undergo IVF treatment is based on existing evidence and helping couples to achieve a successful pregnancy from their treatment. Evidence is drawn from the guidance provided by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence which advises that smoking may reduce fertility in women, while for men, there is a link between smoking and poorer quality of sperm.  

"Smoking is also a risk to the baby; smoking exposes the unborn baby to the toxins in tobacco smoke, and can damage the placenta. Babies born to mothers who smoke are at an increased risk of low birth weight, have poorer lung function and are twice as likely to die from cot death."

7:02am 8th March 2012

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