London, Mar 27 (ANI): Women who stop smoking early enough in pregnancy can cut the risk of having premature or small babies, says a new study.
The British Medical Journal study suggests that pregnant females who do not quit by 15 weeks, are three times more likely to give birth prematurely and twice as likely to have small babies compared to women who have stopped smoking.
According to lead author, Dr Lesley McCowan at the University of Auckland, maternity care providers need to emphasise to women the major benefits of giving up smoking before 15 weeks in pregnancy with the goal of becoming smoke free as early in pregnancy as possible.
To reach the conclusion, authors surveyed over 2,500 pregnant women participating in the SCOPE study in Australia and New Zealand at 15 weeks gestation.
The volunteers were divided into three groups: non smoker, stopped smoker and current smoker. The 'stopped smoker' group all gave up before 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The results show that there were no differences between the rates of premature birth between stopped smokers and non-smokers, whereas current smokers had much higher risk. Similar results were revealed for expected baby size.
Another important finding was that women who stopped smoking were not more stressed than women who continued to smoke.
The smoking status of the participants also revealed social and health inequalities. Smokers were more likely to be single mothers, less well educated, unemployed, overweight or underweight. They were more likely to be drinking alcohol and less likely to be taking folic acid at 15 weeks of pregnancy.
In conclusion, the authors say that their "results are of considerable public health importance. The data suggest that the adverse effects of smoking on these late pregnancy outcomes may be largely reversible if smoking is ceased early in pregnancy, offering an important incentive for pregnant women who smoke to become smoke-free early in pregnancy." (ANI)