Use of Smoking Cessation Meds in Pregnancy Reviewed

Use more likely following discussion with doctor and if covered by insurance

MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Data on smoking cessation medication use in pregnancy are sparse and safety of the drugs in pregnancy is unknown, but smoking threatens the fetus, so clinical practice guidelines note that it may be safer to use these medications in pregnancy rather than continue smoking. An article in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology concludes that pregnant women are more likely to take smoking cessation drugs if their obstetrician discusses the drugs with them and if they have private health insurance.

Nancy A. Rigotti, M.D., and colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, surveyed 296 smokers at the end of pregnancy and three months' postpartum to determine if heavy smokers and those who had tried, unsuccessfully, to quit during pregnancy were more likely to take anti-smoking medications.

The researchers found that 10 percent of the women used a smoking cessation medication (nicotine patch, nicotine gum or buproprion) during their pregnancies and 14.3 percent used cessation medication within three months' postpartum. The relationship between the women's health care provider discussing specific anti-smoking drugs and the women subsequently selecting the anti-smoking medication was statistically significant.

Although the study was limited to women living in one geographical area and did not ask specifically what medical providers said about various cessation methods, the authors conclude, "Our data strongly suggest that pregnant women would be more likely to use a smoking cessation medication in pregnancy if their obstetric providers routinely discussed these medications with them and if health insurers covered the cost of these medications."

The study authors have disclosed financial relationships with Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis and Nabi Biopharmaceuticals.

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