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New nicotine warning for pregnancy

Thursday July 21st, 2011

Pregnant women who want to give up smoking should not use nicotine patches, researchers revealed today.

Scientists say they have shown how nicotine causes permanent damage to the blood vessels of the foetus <!babies in the womb>, highlighting the need to stay away from tobacco during pregnancy.

The findings come from experiments on laboratory rats conducted in California, USA.

Dr DaLiao Xiao, of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, found that nicotine led to chemicals known as reactive oxygen species in the walls of blood vessels - causing permanent and life-long changes.

The study is reported in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Dr Xiao said: "We have found distinct links between cigarette smoking or even using nicotine patches or gum and the long-term harm for the child."

The British Heart Foundation said it was still better for a woman to use nicotine replacement therapy than to smoke - although she should try to give up smoking without using them.

Associate medical director Professor Jeremy Pearson said: “This study provides further evidence that nicotine exposure during pregnancy not only has immediate harmful effects on the foetus, but may increase the risk of heart and circulatory disease in children as they grow up.

“Any form of nicotine is bad for women during pregnancy but nicotine replacement therapy, like patches or gum, is better than smoking. The baby avoids some 4,000 potentially dangerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke and both mother and baby will enjoy better circulation as their blood isn’t polluted with as much carbon monoxide.

"There is lots of help out there for smokers wanting to quit that doesn’t involve nicotine, so there really is no excuse for expectant mums not kick the habit and avoid putting their children at unnecessary risk.”

Daliao Xiao, Xiaohui Huang, Shumei Yang and Lubo Zhang. Antenatal Nicotine Induces Heightened Oxidative Stress and Vascular Dysfunction in Rat Offspring. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01437.x

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Heart Health | North America | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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