Researcher highlights hidden problem of smoking after pregnancy

Most women know to drop cigarettes and alcohol while they are pregnant. In fact, about half of women smokers now quit smoking when they become pregnant.

Unfortunately, about 70 percent of them return to smoking shortly after they give birth. “This is a hidden public health tragedy,” says Thomas Brandon, Ph.D., Director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa. “When women resume smoking after the baby is born the infant is more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome, to have asthma symptoms, to develop colic, middle ear infections, and pneumonia, as well as to grow up with behavioral problems such as hyperactivity.”

But the consequences of starting smoking again go beyond the health of the new baby. By quitting smoking while pregnant, the mother has reduced her own chances of ever developing lung cancer (the No. #1 cancer killer of women), heart disease, and other smoking-related illness. But she negates that progress if she resumes smoking after giving birth. “It is such a tremendous accomplishment when a woman manages to quit during her pregnancy,” says Brandon, “yet it is such a shame when she later starts up again. It’s a lost opportunity for both the mother and her child.”

Why do so many new mothers resume smoking? According to Brandon, some women “suspend” their smoking during pregnancy, with the intent of starting up again after they give birth. They may not be aware of the health risks to their infant of secondhand smoke. Other women plan to stay smoke-free after delivery, but they then encounter the stress of new motherhood, experience the “baby blues,” and/or worry about losing the weight they gained while pregnant. All of these factors can contribute to making a cigarette appear very tempting to a sleep-deprived, stressed-out new mother.

Based on his previous success at reducing smoking relapse among smokers in general, the National Institutes of Health (specifically, the National Cancer Institute) has awarded Brandon and the University of South Florida a five-year, $1.7 million grant to find a way to help pregnant women avoid relapsing to smoking after they give birth.

As part of this grant, Moffitt is seeking women who are within their fourth through eighth month of pregnancy and who have already given up smoking for their pregnancy. Women who enroll in the study will be mailed sets of written information about quitting smoking and staying quit during and after their pregnancy. They will be contacted again after they give birth to find out how much the information helped them and to provide any feedback they might have about improving the materials they received. Because all contact is by telephone or mail, the study is unique in that women from any part of the country are eligible to participate. If the materials prove to be helpful to women, the goal is to make them widely available to pregnant women around the country.

Women interested in participating in the study should call Moffitt’s Tobacco Research and Intervention Program at 1-877-9-KICK-IT (1-877-954-2548).

In 2001, the National Cancer Institute awarded Moffitt the status of a Comprehensive Cancer Center in recognition of its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in the U.S. News & World Report as one of the top cancer hospitals in America. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

In 2001, the National Cancer Institute awarded Moffitt the status of a Comprehensive Cancer Center in recognition of its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country's leading cancer centers, and is listed in the U.S. News & World Report as one of the top cancer hospitals in America. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post
You might also like...
Study underpins use of primary SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations and booster doses during pregnancy