I would imagine that in the year 2012, I probably don’t have to recite the list of reasons why smoking, especially while pregnant, is a pretty bad idea. But just in case, the CDC says that smoking while pregnant may result in “pregnancy complications, premature birth, low-birth-weight infants, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”
So, we can agree then that if you’re pregnant, now is a really good time to attempt to quit.
I’ve never been a smoker, but many of my family members have been, so I know that trying to quit is no joking matter. Nicotine is highly addictive and sometimes no matter how much you want to be smoke-free, it’s simply not that easy. And a new study shows that one of the more popular smoking cessation products won’t help you while you’re pregnant either.
A study that will be appearing the March edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, investigated whether a nicotine patch would help pregnant woman quit smoking more than a placebo patch. They split the women evenly, didn’t tell them if their treatment was real or not and tracked their results.
At one month into the study 21.3% of those with the real nicotine patches had stayed smoke-free as compared to 11.7% of those with placebo patches. This seems like a pretty good start, but it went downhill from there. At the time the women in the study delivered their babies, only 9.4% of those in the treatment group had completely quit smoking and only 7.6% of the placebo group had achieved the same result. The margin between the two is so small that it very possibly could be due to chance.
The science behind it has to do with the fact that pregnant women metabolize nicotine much faster than their non-pregnant counterparts, which means that any nicotine replacement product like a patch or gum, is going to be less effective at managing cravings for cigarettes. The recommendations of the authors are that pregnant women avoid patches and try support groups and behavioral therapy to reduce their cravings.
In light of this new research I think we should continue to lend as much support as possible to women who are attempting to quit smoking while pregnant and applaud those who have managed to do so already. It’s clearly not an easy accomplishment, but it’s one of the best things that you can possibly do for your baby.