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Nicotine Patches May Not Help During Pregnancy
Date:3/1/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Nicotine patches don't seem to be of much use in helping pregnant women quit smoking, a new study finds.

Dr. Tim Coleman, of the Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham in England, and colleagues assigned 1,050 women who were 12 to 24 weeks pregnant to one of two groups. Members of one group received behavioral smoking cessation support and wore a nicotine patch, while the other group received the counseling but wore a patch that looked like the real thing but did not contain nicotine.

Women given the active nicotine patch had higher quit rates (about 21 percent) during the first month of the study than women in the placebo group (nearly 12 percent). But by delivery, both groups' quit rates were about the same -- 9.4 percent for those wearing the real patch and 7.6 percent for those wearing the look-alike, not a statistically significant difference.

One possible reason: Many of the women discontinued wearing the patch. Only a little more than 7 percent of women assigned to the nicotine-replacement therapy and fewer than 3 percent given the placebo used the patch for more than a month, the study authors noted.

Nicotine replacement therapy -- which can include patches, gum or nasal sprays -- has been shown to help people who aren't pregnant quit smoking, according to background information in the article. But the same doesn't appear to be true in pregnant women, experts said.

"The nicotine patch improved short-term but not long-term quit rates," said Dr. Cheryl Oncken, a professor of medicine, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington, Conn., who wrote an accompanying editorial. "The other significant finding is that there was low compliance. Women didn't really take the patch for any period of time. So you really can't tell from this data whether i
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