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E-cigarettes as effective as patches for pregnant women

Tuesday May 17th 2022

E-cigarettes can help pregnant women to stop smoking and are as safe as nicotine patches, according to new UK research.

The study by a team at Queen Mary University of London is the first to examine the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes among pregnant smokers.

Two medications have been tested with pregnant smokers: nicotine replacement treatments, such as nicotine chewing gum or patches, and bupropion, an antidepressant.

While nicotine replacement had only limited effects, there was none for bupropion.

This study, published in *Nature Medicine*, involved 1,140 pregnant smokers who were randomly divided into two groups.

One group was given e-cigarettes while the other was given nicotine patches. Although quit rates in the two study groups were similar, they found some of those in the patch group who quit smoking did so after using e-cigarettes.

When the team analysed this, the e-cigarette group was found to have better proven quit rates at end of pregnancy than the patch group (6.8% vs 4.4%, p<0.02).

The researchers say the quit rates are low because very few of the participants posted back their saliva samples to confirm they did not smoke.

When they examined self-reported abstinence at end of pregnancy, the figure was 19.8% vs 9.7% (p<0.001) in the two groups: 34% of the women in the e-cigarette group and 6% in the patch group were using their products at the end of pregnancy.

Professor Peter Hajek, director of the Health and Lifestyle Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said: "While it is best for pregnant smokers to stop smoking without continuing to use nicotine, if this is difficult, e-cigarettes can help smokers quit and are as safe as nicotine patches.

"Many stop smoking services are already using e-cigarettes as an option for smokers generally. Such use can now be adopted in stop-smoking services for pregnant women as well."

Hajek et al. E-cigarettes may be more effective than nicotine patches in helping pregnant women who smoke quit, and are just as safe. *Nature Medicine* 16 May 2022; doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01808-0

[abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Drug & Alcohol Abuse | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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