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Nicotine Patches Unsuccessful at Stopping Smoking in Pregnancy — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
March 12, 2014

Nicotine Patches Unsuccessful at Stopping Smoking in Pregnancy

By Kelly Young

Nicotine patches do not appear to help women quit smoking during pregnancy, according to a BMJ study.

Roughly 400 pregnant women who smoked at least five cigarettes a day were randomized in their second trimester to a transdermal nicotine patch (10-30 mg/day) or placebo patch. All patients received behavioral support.

Complete abstinence rates were low and not significantly different between the groups, roughly 5%. Median diastolic blood pressure was significantly higher in the nicotine patch group by 8 mm Hg at the last visit. In the few patients who abstained from smoking, the average birth weight was about 300 g higher than in smoking patients.

An editorialist notes that patients didn't receive psychosocial support in the first few weeks, when smokers are at highest risk for relapse. She concludes: "Given the limitations of the new trial and the potential benefit of combination therapy, it may be too early to abandon the option of [nicotine replacement therapy] entirely."

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