Researchers Say It’s Not Too Late for Pregnant Mothers to Give Up Smoking

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If you’re a smoker who has just found out you’re pregnant, it’s not too late to quit, according to scientists.A study of over 50,000 pregnancies has confirmed that women who gave up smoking as soon as they were told they were pregnant gave birth to babies with similar birth weights and health to babies born to mothers who had never smoked.Low birth weight is the most common adverse outcome of smoking during pregnancy, but there are also risks of premature birth, brain damage and congenital abnormalities such as cleft lip.

This is the first study to show that these negative outcomes can be avoided even if the mother waits until pregnancy confirmation to give up smoking.

British researchers collected clinical, lifestyle and socioeconomic data from pregnancies between 2002 and 2010.  They separated women into groups, including those who had never smoked, those who had stopped less than a year before conceiving, those who stopped once the pregnancy was confirmed, and those who continued smoking into pregnancy.

Babies born to mothers who had stopped smoking around conception or as soon as the pregnancy was confirmed had significantly higher birth weights than those born to mothers who had continued to smoke throughout pregnancy.

“Not only was birthweight much better in this group than it was in the groups where the mothers had continued to smoke, but we also found that the babies reached the same gestational age and head circumference as those born to women who had never smoked,” said Professor Nick Macklon, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Southampton, UK.

Prior studies have linked smoking with difficulty getting pregnant, increased risk of miscarriages and early menopause.

“We hope that our research will provide additional encouragement to mothers-to-be to give up cigarettes,” Macklon said.