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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Nicotine patches and gum seem to be safe and effective in pregnant women, according to a new study.Such patches and gum have been shown to help non-pregnant adults stop smoking, study co-author Dr. Geeta K. Swamy told Reuters Health.
However, women and their obstetricians have been uncertain about their safety and effectiveness during pregnancy.
Dr. Swamy, from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues took another look at data on pregnant smokers who had participated in a study comparing psychological treatments with nicotine patches or gum to help them quit.Adding nicotine patches or gum tripled the number of women who quit, from 8 percent to 24 percent.
Almost a third - 31 percent -- of the women who used the patch or gum had pregnancy complications, compared to 17 percent of the women who did not use it.
However, there was a much higher risk of such complications in black women, those with complications in previous pregnancies, and use of painkillers.
The use of the patch did not seem to have a direct effect, the researchers note.Based on the findings, although the patch is not "absolutely safe," it may still be worth using in heavy smokers, given the known association between smoking and bad pregnancy outcomes, particularly premature birth and low birth weight, they conclude.