New Research Shows E-Cigarettes ‘as safe as nicotine patches’ for Pregnant Smokers

A UK study which included, pregnant smokers from Forth Valley who were trying to quit, has concluded that e-cigarettes are “as safe as nicotine patches.”

Four weeks into their attempt to stop, 15.4% of those given e-cigarettes self-reported that they were not smoking, compared with 8.6% who were asked to use nicotine patches.

The study involved 1,140 women from 23 hospital sites in England and from NHS Forth Valley, (which was only site in Scotland) with a median age of 27 years. On average they were 15.7 weeks pregnant and smoked 10 cigarettes a day. Of these 569 were assigned to use e-cigarettes and 571 to use nicotine patches. Results were obtained through saliva samples, a carbon monoxide sample and self-reporting.

Only 40% of those given e-cigarettes and 23% of those given patches used their allocated product for at least four weeks. However, both uptake and duration of use during the study was higher among those given e-cigarettes.

NHS Forth Valley lead for the study, Consultant Obstetrician, Dr Shahzya Huda, said: “Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of adverse birth outcomes such as low birthweight, placental abruption, preterm birth, miscarriage and neonatal or sudden infant death. The need to identify stop-smoking interventions that help pregnant women who smoke is made even more urgent by the fact that the link between smoking and socioeconomic disadvantage is particularly strong in women who are pregnant. However, we know that stubbing out the habit can be a real struggle.”

While e-cigarettes have been found to be more effective than nicotine patches in helping people quit, there has been little research into their effectiveness or safety among pregnant women, despite an increase in use by expectant mothers. In addition, the team found the rates of adverse events were similar between those given e-cigarettes and those given nicotine patches. But low birth weights were more common in the nicotine patch group.

The authors also highlighted, that given questions remain about the potential risks of nicotine in pregnancy, it is preferable for pregnant women to quit smoking without using any products containing nicotine.

Gillian Bruce, former NHS Forth Valley Stop Smoking Co-ordinator, said: “We would only recommend the use of nicotine products to smokers wanting to quit their regular cigarettes.