Effects of undergoing nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy

12-26-2016 Posted in Addiction, Substance Abuse, Treatment

Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is one of the most preventable causes of infant and maternal mortality as well as morbidity. Smoking can seriously interfere with the pregnancy outcomes leading to placental previa, placental abruption, perinatal mortality, ectopic pregnancy, premature rupture of membranes, spontaneous abortions, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and preterm delivery. Every year, approximately 10 percent of the expectant mothers in the U.S. are estimated to indulge in smoking, exposing as many as 400,000 fetuses to nicotine and other obnoxious chemicals, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nicotine can retard the fetal brain and lung development. To cut down on cravings for nicotine and relieve nicotine withdrawal symptoms, many pregnant women are seeking nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which can be used in the form of inhalers, nasal sprays, skin patches, lozenges, etc.

However, nicotine use in any form can have serious repercussions, therefore, any kind of replacement therapy should be sought only when the behavioral therapy fails and the pros and cons have been extensively discussed between the woman and her healthcare provider.

Changes in the pattern of tobacco use

In the last few years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way people use tobacco. This has been an outcome of the excessive promotion, through various print and electronic media, of non-combustible products such as snus (wet tea bag-like pouches with snuff), dissolvable tobacco products (fine tobacco powder dispensed in pills, sticks and strips) and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which are small gadgets which produce vapors of nicotine, propylene glycol and flavorings using a heating element, along with electronic cigarettes.

The availability of these alternatives has triggered a serious public health concern as people who had never contemplated smoking in its conventional form, or those would have opted for giving up tobacco use, may stick to these options because of the ease of use.

Nicotine exposure during pregnancy can lead to adverse health consequences

Currently, there are no human studies to explore the impact of NRTs on pregnancy and beyond, however, multiple animal studies have shown that nicotine exposure can lead to widespread adverse health consequences. In some studies, maternal nicotine exposure has led to defective pulmonary, metabolic and hypoxia-sensing effects in the offspring. In addition, maternal nicotine exposure has been reported to influence even the second-generation babies, as per the studies conducted on animals.

Lately, more and more pregnant women are resorting to smoking, which has been responsible for a significant rise in abnormalities in babies. While NRTs are the preferred substitutes for cigarettes, one must keep in mind that these substitutes also have a considerable amount of nicotine, which is a toxin.

Road to recovery

Pregnancy is a beautiful phase, however, millions of women around the world resort to substance abuse which can have serious repercussions, not only on their own health but also on the well-being of the newborn baby. Some women are trapped in the vicious cycle of tobacco addiction which can be difficult to give up. Therefore, in order to create more awareness about this issue and suggest preventive measures to curb addiction in pregnant women, caregivers as well as family members should explain expecting mothers about the drastic effects of smoking cigarettes.

If you or your loved one is suffering from addiction to tobacco or any other addictive substances, contact the 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline to get the best recovery interventions. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5607 or chat online for further information on inpatient drug abuse treatment centers in your vicinity.

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