Quitting smoking during pregnancy lowers risk of preterm births

Washington: A recent study claims that smoking during pregnancy can have negative health impacts. According to researchers smoking during pregnancy can result in low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, preterm birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays.

The details were published in the Journal of JAMA Network Open.

“Of concern, though, given the substantial benefits of smoking cessation during pregnancy, is the proportion of pre-pregnancy smokers who quit smoking during pregnancy has remained essentially stagnant since 2011,” explains lead author Samir Soneji.

The investigators sought to assess the probability of preterm birth among expectant mothers who smoked before pregnancy and quit at the start or during pregnancy.

Using data researchers conducted a cross-sectional study that gave birth to live neonates during a six-year period, measuring their smoking.

Notably, their analysis not only showed that quitting smoking was associated with a reduced risk of preterm birth, but it also showed that the probability of preterm birth decreased.

However, the study also found that only about 25 percent of women who smoked prior to pregnancy were able to quit throughout their pregnancy.

“Pregnancy can be a stressful time in a woman’s life. And women who smoked prior to pregnancy may turn to smoke or continue to smoke as a way to mitigate this stress,” says Soneji.

“Thus, it is incumbent upon healthcare providers who care for pregnant women to have a renewed focus on smoking cessation. Pregnancy is often a time when women have more frequent contact with the healthcare system, and this increased contact provides expectant mothers an opportunity to discuss their concerns about smoking, including their attempts to stop, and receive the support and resources they need to safely and successfully quit,” he says.

“Even among women who smoke a pack a day or more, there can be a substantial reduction in the risk of premature births if these heavy smokers quit early in pregnancy,” Soneji says.

Next, Soneji plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality. “Thankfully most premature babies end up doing well. But premature birth is strongly linked to infant mortality. If we determine to quit, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation.” he says.