Avoid nicotine to protect baby’s health, expectant mums advised

Pregnant women who smoke or use nicotine may be risking the future heart health of their unborn child, a new study shows.

Scientists in California say cigarette smoking, or even using nicotine gum or patches, could increase a foetus’ risk of heart disease later in life by raising blood pressure.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation Associate Medical Director, says: “This study provides further evidence that nicotine exposure during pregnancy not only has immediate harmful effects on the foetus, but may increase the risk of heart and circulatory disease in children as they grow up.

“Any form of nicotine is bad for women during pregnancy but nicotine replacement therapy, like patches or gum, is better than smoking. The baby avoids some 4,000 potentially dangerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke and both mother and baby will enjoy better circulation as their blood isn’t polluted with as much carbon monoxide.”

Reminding pregnant women that there is lots of help out there for smokers wanting to quit that doesn’t involve nicotine, Professor Pearson says “there really is no excuse for expectant mums not to kick the habit and avoid putting their children at unnecessary risk.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.