Active and passive exposure to tobacco smoke are the most serious and preventable causes of poor maternal, fetal, and infant outcomes in the United States. Unfortunately, the majority of pregnant smokers do not quit smoking before or during pregnancy or after childbirth. We describe a standardized behavioral counseling model and discuss issues to consider in recommending the use of pharmacotherapy during pregnancy. Although the Food and Drug Administration no longer classifies nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as contraindicated during pregnancy, precautions should be carefully considered for use in this population. This paper provides a synopsis of the risks of exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and the postpartum; estimates the population at risk and the potential for increased cessation if effective health education methods during pregnancy were routinely provided; presents a meta-analysis of "best practice" patient education methods for pregnant smokers; and estimates the number of pregnant heavy smokers who might be eligible for NRT. We suggest five issues for the physician to consider before recommending NRT medications to pregnant patients who are heavy smokers. The judicious use of NRT medications may significantly reduce harm to the infants of heavy smokers. More evidence derived from large population-based research, however, is needed to provide guidance to the physician about NRT eligibility, dose, scheduling, and effectiveness in clinical practice.
|Number of pages
|Journal of the American Medical Women's Association
|Published - 2000