A new study published in the journal Addiction reports that 43% of women who quit smoking when they are pregnant resume their habit six months after childbirth.

Details and Conclusions of the Study

This study was conducted by researchers from the University of Nottingham. It is part of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grants for Applied Research. According to BT, the researchers analyzed data from 27 studies involving smoking cessation services for pregnant women. The number of women involved was more than 18,000.

Researchers were able to conclude that nearly half of the women who stopped smoking during their pregnancy started again six months after giving birth. According to an article in TIME magazine, the researchers found that 13% of women stopped smoking during pregnancy and abstained after childbirth. However, the remaining 87% were either unable or unwilling to quit.

Lead author Dr Matthew Jones, from the University of Nottingham, said: “Smoking during pregnancy is a major global public health issue – a conservative estimate for the annual economic burden in the UK is £23.5 million and in the US 110 million dollars (£77 million). Our report reveals a wide gulf between what pregnant women need to quit smoking and what our healthcare services currently provide.”

This conclusion is in line with the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2011 Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS) report which showed that 10% of women only stopped smoking in the third trimester of their pregnancy. Of those who quit smoking before or during their pregnancy, there was an almost 50% chance of relapsing.

Negative Effects of Smoking on Pregnancy

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, was quoted in the report saying, “While it’s vital that pregnant smokers quit to give their baby the best start in life, the risk of serious harm from smoking doesn’t disappear once the baby is born. And all smokers in the home need to be encouraged to quit, or at least not to expose the baby to tobacco smoke, as whoever or wherever it comes from, tobacco smoke increases the risks of breathing problems and sudden infant death.”

The CDC has listed some of the negative effects smoking can have on pregnancies. They include:

  • Damage to the placenta leading to bleeding and less oxygen for the baby
  • Increased risk of miscarriage or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Smoking can also cause early births and underweight babies.
  • Babies’ lungs won’t function well if exposed to cigarette smoke.
  • Babies might be born with heart defects.
  • Your children can suffer from lifelong learning disorders.
  • The pregnant woman can suffer health effects such as throat cancer and high blood pressure.

With risks such as these, it is important for pregnant women to protect the health of their unborn babies by abstaining from cigarettes.