Nicotine patches and gum seem to be safe and effective in pregnant women, according to a new study.
Such patches and gum have been shown to help non-pregnant adults stop smoking, study co-author Dr. Geeta K. Swamy told Reuters Health. However, women and their physicians have been uncertain about their safety and effectiveness during pregnancy.
Reuters Health reports Dr. Swamy, from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues took another look at data on pregnant smokers who had participated in a study comparing psychological treatments with nicotine patches or gum to help them quit.
Adding nicotine patches or gum tripled the number of women who quit, from 8 percent to 24 percent.
However, almost a third, 31%, of the women who used the patch or gum had pregnancy complications, compared to 17% of the women who did not use it. And, there was a much higher risk of such complications in black women, in those with complications in previous pregnancies, and in those using painkillers. However, the use of the patch did not seem to have a direct effect, the researchers noted.
Based on the findings, although the patch is not “absolutely safe,” the researchers believe it may still be worth using in heavy smokers, given the known association between smoking and bad pregnancy outcomes, particularly premature birth and low birth weight, they conclude.
The editors of the journal wrote that this study was “an important reanalysis of a randomized trial that compared cognitive therapy with cognitive therapy and nicotine replacement therapy to reduce smoking in pregnancy” and revealed “it is unlikely that the nicotine replacement therapy was associated with adverse outcomes.”
Nevertheless, we may not know for sure until the “Smoking, Nicotine, and Pregnancy trial,” which is a large-scale randomized trial of nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy that is being conducted in the United Kingdom, is published. It will likely provide useful insight into any potential safety concerns because it will follow the offspring up to 2 years of age.
In the meantime, I consider smoking in pregnancy to be much more likely to harm a woman or her baby than using a nicotine replacement therapy to stop smoking. In addition, carrying an unborn baby is often a motive for women to stop smoking.
And, stopping smoking is health at any time!