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Replacement Safer Than Smoking In Pregnancy

Education for Change
Thursday 13 October 2005

Nicotine Replacement Safer Than Smoking In Pregnancy But Smokefree Is Best

Health leaders at a national smokefree pregnancy forum, held in Auckland today, heard that there is growing support for the use of nicotine replacement products in pregnancy where women continue to smoke, especially for women smoking heavily. The forum was organised by Education for Change, a Christchurch-based provider of health-funded health education services.

“Clearly, smokefree is best, but nicotine replacement is better than heavy smoking, for both mother and baby,” said Associate Professor Lesley McCowan, Department of Obstetrics, University of Auckland. “Every reproductive outcome you can think of is made worse by smoking. It is enormously important to be working for smokefree pregnancies with all women, their partners and families.”

While the packaging on nicotine replacement products says “not for use in pregnancy” international experts acknowledge the reduced harm from these products compared to continued smoking.

“Nicotine replacement products deliver only nicotine to the mother and baby – none of the other toxic substances contained in cigarettes,” says Dr McCowan. “While it is obviously better for a baby to be completely nicotine-free, at least with a nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine is all they will be getting. Having a mother who smokes is far worse for the health of the unborn child than having a mother who is on a nicotine replacement product.”

She says that if chewing nicotine gum helps a woman manage cravings, and at the same time reduces the toxins delivered to her baby, it must be better than smoking.

Pregnant women interested in using nicotine replacement products are advised to discuss this with their doctor or midwife.


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