Research Article

Effects of stopping smoking for 48 hours on oxygen availability from the blood: a study on pregnant women.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 11 August 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:355
  1. J M Davies,
  2. I P Latto,
  3. J G Jones,
  4. A Veale,
  5. C A Wardrop


    The effects of stopping smoking for 48 hours on factors governing the availability of oxygen from the blood--that is, carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb), haemoglobin-oxygen (HbO2) affinity, and haemoglobin concentration--were measured in women in the last trimester of pregnancy. Three groups were studied: smokers, smokers who stopped smoking for 48 hours, and non-smokers. The 22 smokers had higher initial COHb values and greater HbO2 affinity than the 10 non-smokers, but their total haemoglobin concentrations were also higher, so that their oxygen availability was not significantly reduced. In the 11 smokers who stopped the reduction in COHb and decrease in HbO2 affinity led to a significant increase of 8% in "available oxygen" in 48 hours. Since even small improvements in oxygen delivery to the tissues may confer critical benefit to the fetus, particularly during labour or when exposed to general anaesthesia, smoking should be discouraged for 48 hours before elective deliveries. The same consideration might reasonably be applied to patients undergoing general anaesthesia for all elective operations.