The Nicotine Patch May Be Worse for a Developing Baby Than Smoking – Really!

Health Check 18

belly mirrorWhat's worse during pregnancy, smoking cigarettes or using the nicotine patch? On the face of it, you'd think the answer is obvious: Smoking. And if you're talking about just the mother's health, that would be a reasonable assumption. But the patch isn't quite the total solution for smoking moms that you think it would be. And as far as the baby's health is concerned, the nicotine patch may be just as bad as smoking cigarettes. First, here's some surprising news about pregnant women who use the patch to try quitting smoking.

In a recent study on pregnant smokers, half were given the nicotine patch and half were given a placebo. The women with the real patch were less likely to smoke during early pregnancy. But sadly, they were just as likely to resume smoking again once they gave birth. The patch did not help them quit for good. So that's disappointing.

Here's the other thing about the patch. All that smoke is terrible for the mother, of course. And there are loads of chemicals in cigarettes that scientists don't even understand -- especially in how they affect a developing baby.

More from The Stir: Smoking E-Cigarettes' During Pregnancy: Is It Safe? (VIDEO)

But that nicotine is definitely trouble for babies. Nicotine has been proven to disrupt the development of a baby's brain. With the patch, your baby is getting a steady stream of the stuff. Depending on how much you smoke, it could even be worse for your baby!

Here is the one glimmer of hope for pregnant smokers: When you take a break between doses of nicotine it does look like the baby's brain gets some much-needed time to recover from some of the damage. So chewing nicotine gum (not all day long) is a solution. But really, the best, most effective thing you can do is the hardest: Just quit, period. No patch, no lozenge, no gum, nothing. Just quit smoking. For both of you.

Do you know anyone who is pregnant and trying to quit smoking?


Image via Dustin Askins/Flickr

is it safe, pregnancy health


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Bruic... Bruickson

I quit cold turkey the day I found out I was pregnant. I kept one "emergency" cigarette though I never had to use it. It just made me feel better knowing it was there. It was really hard to quit but I was too afraid of harming my baby to smoke. I've heard that it's better(not sure if this is actually true) to wean yourself off but I just didn't want to risk it.

nonmember avatar Katrina

I have no respect for any female that doesn't put cigarettes down immediately. Only one disgusting b!tch could seriously ignore the horrid nausea that the smell of cigarettes entail when you are in early pregnancy. I understand half a the habit is hand -to-mouth , in that sense get a freaking sucker or something. Even marijuana is better than a chemical-filled cancer stick. Yuck ..

nonmember avatar mel

My neighbor is pregnant and I still see on her porch smoking. I still can't even believe it . I want to think they are smarter then that but I guess not. They have a son my daughter's age but since they smoke in front of their kid with no regard to stepping away..I don't let her play over there at all. I also don't like that the mom and dad smoke and no one seems to care. Even the grandma smokes. They like my daughter to play with him because he's a handful with out her but I just won't stand for cigarette smoke around kids.

casan... casanderson1

I quit cold turkey as soon as I found out and my son is 2 now and I still haven't touched cigs! :)

Tarot Tarot

It's hard to quit smoking, pregnant or not. I went through it just recently. I had to decrease the amount I smoked before I could quit.

People need to keep their nasty opinions to themselves.

nonmember avatar jessie

I smoked for a week after i found out but it was maybe 2 a day. I think it was mostly nerves but i did quit all together. I can't stand to hear someone say i just can't do it. YES YOU CAN!!! It's just the fact you don't want to.

Marcie Borgula

I quit cold turkey with my first two pregnancies. And it caused my body to go into shock and caused complications. Both of my older children were born with developmental delays and behavioral problems. With the last two pregnancies I didn't fully quit. I also didn't have any complications ( except for when I tried to quit at week 30 with my third baby, I ended up in preterm labor) and both of them were born normal and healthy. In fact my youngest is being tested for the gifted progams since she is above her grade level in all subjects. My doctors told me it was more harmful to my baby and I if I went cold turkey. Don't judge people until you know what they have been told by their doctors or been through it yourself.

Mia Watson

I have to laugh at the comment "even marijuana is better than a nasty chemical filled cancer stick"...really? OK so smoking a joint is actually like smoking 5 "cancer sticks" at one time with all the lung damage, carcinogens, and nicotine they contain...something to think about

rache... rachellann

Haha I have to laugh at your comment Mia Watson. To think that Marijuana which is natural and grows from the earth is the equivalent of smoking 5 chemical filled cigarettes at one time is laughable. Have you even smoked a joint or cigarette? Please do some research my dear!

morga... morgan483

Here's an idea: Don't do either. Christ, it's your kid. I was addicted to Diet Rockstars and I quit cold turkey. You do what's important for the child, that's what motherhood is...sometimes you have to make "sacrifices".

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