Cambridge Study Says Smoking in Pregnancy is Riskier Than Previously Thought

While the current study indicated that smoking increases the risk of premature birth threefold, which is double the previous estimate, a new study reiterated that the most effective way for pregnant smokers to quit is via vaping.

The study, “Objective measures of smoking and caffeine intake and the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes,” as the title suggests, looked into the effect of consuming coffee and cigarettes during pregnancy. A research team from Cambridge University actually found no evidence that above average caffeine intake throughout pregnancy is linked to pre-term birth or smaller babies.

In contrast, found the study, pregnant women who smoked were almost three times as likely to experience premature births than non-smokers, in what is a significant increase than previously estimated. Additionally, the research indicated that babies born to mothers who smoked were four times more likely to be born underweight relative to their gestational age, putting them at risk of severe complications such as respiratory problems and infections.

Recent research delving into the epigenetic effects of maternal smoking, found that smoking during pregnancy can lead to alterations in the DNA methylation patterns of the developing fetus. These epigenetic changes can have long-lasting consequences, potentially affecting the child’s health and development throughout their life.

The above findings coincide with another study conducted at the University of Essex, which revealed that when a pregnant woman or her partner faced job loss, it was linked to a higher likelihood of miscarriage or stillbirth. The study observed a twofold increase in the risk of a pregnancy ending in miscarriage or stillbirth following the loss of employment.

Meanwhile, in line with previous research findings, another study published in JAMA Network Open, found that pregnant smokers were more likely to remain abstinent from cigarettes when using vapes rather than traditional nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as nicotine patches or gums, when trying to quit.

Pregnant smokers are more likely to quit via vapes than traditional NRTs
The study, “Cigarette Smoking Abstinence Among Pregnant Individuals Using E-Cigarettes or Nicotine Replacement Therapy” analysed data gathered from 1,329 pregnant people through the U.S. Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) between 2016 and 2020.

A research team from the University of Buffalo split the selected pregnant study subjects into two groups, a group who used e-cigarettes and another who used traditional NRTS. The researchers than compared abstinence rates in the two groups, and found that those who vaped prior to being pregnant were more likely to manage to abstain from smoking later in pregnancy, than the NRT group.

In fact, vapes are often considered more effective than NRTs for smoking cessation due to several factors. Vaping mimics the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, addressing the  behavioral and habitual aspects of smoking which are not fulfilled by traditional NRTs. The ability to control nicotine levels allows vapers to gradually reduce their nicotine intake, easing the transition. Additionally, the satisfaction derived from the act of vaping, coupled with a variety of flavours, enhances user experience, potentially making it a more appealing and sustainable option for smokers looking to quit compared to conventional NRTs.