Even With Weight Gain, Quitting Smoking in Pregnancy Still Best for Health

Women who smoke and become pregnant may worry that the weight gain that comes with quitting might bring its own harms to themselves or their baby.

However, a new study confirms the health benefits of quitting smoking still far exceed any weight-linked concerns.

Weight gain can occur once women decide to forgo cigarettes, but even that can be minimized, said a team led by Morgan Dunn. She’s a final year obstetrics and gynecology resident at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

“We recommend that doctors advise patients to quit while offering nutrition counseling that might minimize the weight gain,” she said in a Rutgers news release.

The study was published recently in the journal Hypertension.

In the study, Dunn’s group looked at data on health outcomes in over 22 million pregnancies.

They found that rates of dangerous hypertension in pregnancy did rise among women who quit smoking. It occurred in 6.8% of pregnancies to nonsmoking women, compared to 8.6% of pregnancies for women who quit smoking when they learned they were pregnant.

The percentage rose even higher — to 17% — among women who quit smoking at the outset of a pregnancy and then gained weight that exceeded recommended levels, Dunn’s team found.

However, any risk linked to a rise in blood pressure during pregnancy for former smokers were easily eclipsed by reductions in risks in other areas.

For example, quitting smoking cut a woman’s odds for stillbirth by 80 percent, the Rutgers group found.

It also halved a woman’s odds for premature delivery, bringing it to a level that was nearly equal to that of nonsmokers.

“Cigarettes are a powerful appetite suppressant, so quitters tend to gain considerable weight, particularly when they are still going through withdrawal,” Dunn acknowledged, but “the health benefits of quitting obviously exceed the dangers of extra weight for most people.”

More information

There’s help on quitting smoking at smokefree.gov.

SOURCE: Rutgers University-New Brunswick, news release, April 18, 2024

Source: HealthDay