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Reduced Risks For Moms Who Quit Smoking Early

July 22, 2009

Pregnancy risks involved with smoking mothers can be reduced if women are able to kick the habit early in the pregnancy, researchers reported on Tuesday.

Among the complications caused by smoking during pregnancy, the most commonly known are premature birth and low-birth weight children, both of which can be reduced if mothers-to-be can stop smoking early in pregnancy.

“Our results show that first-trimester quitters have a risk of delivering a preterm or SGA newborn comparable to those who never smoked during pregnancy, and second trimester quitters also have a lower risk of these outcomes, but not to the same magnitude as first-trimester quitters,” Dr. Laura L. Polakowski of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta wrote in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Beginning in 2003, revised birth certificates began documenting information to include whether or not the child’s mother smoked during each trimester of her pregnancy.

Researchers studied this data among 915,441 birth certificates from babies born in 11 states in 2005.

Based on the information gathered, Polakowski and colleagues found that 10 percent of women who smoked during each trimester gave birth to premature babies, but the babies were not smaller than expected based on gestational age. Additionally, 15 percent gave birth to full term babies that were small for their gestational age. Two percent of mothers who smoked during their entire pregnancy gave birth to premature, low birth weight children.

Conversely, women who quit smoking during their first trimester had risks of 8 percent, 9 percent and one percent, respectively, according to Reuters.

The team found that women who kick the habit during the first trimester reduce the risk of giving birth to a premature normal size baby by 31 percent, a full-term, too-small baby by 55 percent; and a preterm, small for gestational age baby by 53 percent.

“Although pregnancy is the most common reason women quit smoking, smoking is a difficult addiction to break,” researchers concluded.

“Added incentive to quit may come with further evidence of the benefits of smoking cessation even as pregnancy progresses.”

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