Dr. Lorena Siqueira, director of adolescent medicine at Miami Children's Hospital, said the new findings provide one more reason that mothers-to-be should not smoke. "We have known that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk for low birth weight babies and preterm delivery," she said.
Calling the findings "fascinating, but preliminary," she said that maternal smoking history may not be the sole reason why some teens crave fatty foods. "This needs to be looked at more as a lot of what we are seeing may be due to access to salty, fatty foods that we all have a taste for."
Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., said this new information may help experts tailor quit-smoking messages toward some pregnant women.
"We often counsel these women and tell them that smoking during pregnancy may increase their risk for a low birth weight baby, but they may not appreciate this," Folan said. Risk of adolescent obesity may resonate more for some women. "We know if we personalize the message, it can help motivate them to make a quit attempt," she said.
About 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States and Canada smoke, according to background information in the study.
It's never too late to quit smoking when pregnant, Folan said. "The pregnancy will be improved and you will be more likely to deliver at term without the health risks associated with preterm birth," she said.
More tools are available today to help people quit smoking than ever before, she said. "Talk to your doctor about which method will be best for you," she added.
While the study found an apparent link between maternal smoking and fatty food cravings in teens, it didn't prove the existence of a cause-and-effect relationship.
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