Most women know smoking during pregnancy is linked to low birth weights, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), preterm birth and a myriad of other health issues for both the mother and child.
However, a recent study published in the July issue of the Maternal and Child Health Journal found that women who used cessation products both with nicotine and without — called nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) — and women who had been recommended NRTs had negative pregnancy outcomes worse than women who continued to smoke during their pregnancy.
According to the study by Kimberly H. Gaither and other members of the Department of Public Health Sciences, children born to women using or recommended NRTs were twice as likely to have a low birthweight compared with nonsmokers while smokers were about 1.3 times more likely. Similarly, women who used or were recommended NRTs were also more likely than both smokers and nonsmokers to have premature births.
Part of the disparity is attributed to the frequency of smokers prescribed and recommended NRTs, who are generally heavier smokers than those who were not prescribed or recommended to use NRTs. The study calls for making sure that those women who are the heaviest smokers successfully quit smoking to avoid the negative impact of both smoking and use of NRTs.
As of yet, the FDA has not overtly advised doctors against prescribing NRTs during pregnancy because of the previously unknown complications; but physicians have shied away doing so due to the FDA’s classification as not advisable for “sensitive groups.”
If you are pregnant — or plan on becoming pregnant — and you are a smoker, talk to your doctor about quitting smoking. There are many options, all of which can improve the chances you will have a healthy baby and complication-free pregnancy.