E-cigarettes ‘beneficial’ for helping pregnant smokers quote

Pregnant women who smoke should consider e-cigarettes to help reduce the risk of low birthweight, a new study reveals today.

Current guidelines recommend that pregnant smokers who find it difficult to quit the habit should be provided with nicotine replacements products, which are usually nicotine patches.

However, research by Queen Mary University of London, UK, suggests they should also consider e-cigarettes.

The study included 1,140 pregnant women who were trying to stop smoking. They were split into two groups, with one half receiving e-cigarettes and the other half receiving nicotine patches.

The only meaningful difference was that fewer women in the e-cigarette group had children with low birthweight – under 2,500 grams – and the researchers say this is most likely because e-cigarettes were more effective in reducing the use of conventional cigarettes.

At the end of their pregnancy, some women reported they had stopped smoking using a product they were not assigned. In the main, these were women who were given patches but who had bought their own e-cigarettes.

Almost twice as many women quit with e-cigarettes than with nicotine patches.

Peter Hajek, director of Health and Lifestyle Research Unit, Wolfson Institute of Population Health, Queen Mary University of London said: “E-cigarettes seem more effective than nicotine patches in helping pregnant women to quit smoking and because of this, they seem to also lead to better pregnancy outcomes.

“The evidence-based advice to smokers already includes, among other options, a recommendation to switch from smoking to e-cigarettes. Such a recommendation can now be extended to smokers who are pregnant as well.”

Helping pregnant smokers quit: a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of electronic cigarettes versus nicotine replacement therapy. Health Technology Assessment 1 August 2023; doi: 10.3310/AGTH6901


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