Nicotine Patches Little To No Effect In Aiding Pregnant Woman Quit Smoking
A new study led by Dr. Tim Coleman at the University of Nottingham in England and published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that nicotine patches have little to no effect in aiding pregnant women to quit smoking. The scientists used 1,050 pregnant women for their study. The women were divided into two groups, one that received counseling and nicotine patches and the second group that also received counseling but the patches they received contained no nicotine (placebo).
Although women that were part of the first group, the ones that received the patch had a quit rate of over 20 percent after the first month, by the time of delivery, the rate of quitting dropped to 9.4 percent. Only 12 percent of the women from the second group had quit after one month of study, buy the percentage also dropped, to 7.6 percent, at delivery. This shows that between the women in the two groups statistically there is ni significant difference.
The reason the percentage of quitters is so low could be the fact that more than 90 percent of the women from both groups had stopped using the nicotine patch by the time of delivery.
Older studies show that patches, gum or even nasal sprays containing nicotine (also referred to as nicotine replacement therapy) has a beneficial effect on patients trying to quit smoking. According to the current study, these therapies have little to no effect on pregnant women.
The nicotine patch improved short-term but not long-term quit rates, said Dr. Cheryl Oncken, while also adding that The other significant finding is that there was low compliance. Women didn’t really take the patch for any period of time. So you really can’t tell from this data whether it’s safe or effective for use in pregnancy.
Dan Jacobsen of the Center for Tobacco Control, N.Y., says that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only use nicotine patches as a last resort, for women who cannot quit smoking with the help of counseling due to safety concerns.
Studies show that women who smoke during pregnancy can affect the birth and life of their newborns, known problems being miscarriage, stillbirth or low birth weight. Nicotine, be it from a cigarette or from patches, also has a direct impact on the fetus, causing colics, shows a study conducted by researchers from Netherlands.
Symptoms in infantile colic include cramping, moaning and excessive crying for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week and more than 3 weeks. This condition usually disappears before the baby is 4 months old, but cases where infantile colic lasts for more than 12 months have been signaled.
Some researchers believe that nicotine alters the serotonin receptors found at the intestinal level. Dan Jacobsen says that several other studies indicate that nicotine is eliminated faster from the bodies of pregnant women, thus the 15 milligrams of nicotine provided by the patch are insufficient. There is no conclusive study that indicates Jacobsen’s suggestion, because conducting such a study would raise many safety concerns.
Whether or not women started smoking and then quit using the patch, or quit using the patch and started smoking afterwards remains in doubt. Dr. Cheryl Oncken says that knowing which activity occurred first would be of use for researchers. Knowledge on this matter would help find out whether further studies should focus on developing a better nicotine replacement therapy or not. Nevertheless, studies conducted so far show that nicotine patches aid patients that want to quit smoking, whilst having a reduced effect on pregnant women.