A Quitter’s Quandary

No butts about it — pregnant women need to quit smoking, for the sake of both themselves and their babies. But how?

Smoking has long been known to cause multiple adverse outcomes in pregnancy. A new study suggests that taking nicotine-replacement products during pregnancy could have similar risks for birth defects.

The study, performed in the UK by University of Nottingham researchers and titled “Nicotine Replacement Therapy in Pregnancy and Major Congenital Anomalies in Offspring,” was published in a recent issue of the journal Pediatrics.

“As doctors, we have significant concerns about exposing a fetus to nicotine, regardless of the source,” said Jonathan Blau, MD, Staten Island University Hospital’s associate director of neonatology.

Nicotine has been shown in animal studies to interfere with neurologic regulation of breathing, predisposing newborns to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Additionally, placental blood flow is affected by nicotine exposure, making newborns more susceptible to low birth weight and growth restriction.

Despite the health risks, 18 percent of Staten Islanders are still smoking. For help kicking the habit, call Kerry Gillespie, SIUH smoking cessation expert, at 718-226-6125 and make an appointment to attend his support group meetings.

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