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Nicotine Replacement Therapy Presents Problems for Pregnant Women, Study Suggests

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A new study from The University of Western Ontario in Canada has found that pregnant women who undergo nicotine replacement therapy during a pregnancy could be putting their child at risk for obesity issues and metabolic syndrome.

It’s well known that smoking during a pregnancy can cause serious health issues for an unborn child. In fact, the Center for Disease Control says that it can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, cleft lip, diabetes, and even sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

And so, with the risks of smoking during pregnany so well known, it would make sense for expecting mothers with smoking addictions to turn to nicotine replacement therapy.

However, researcher Daniel Hardy and his team at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry found that such therapy presents its own problems. In a recent study, the Western research team found that pregnant rats given a set dosage of nicotine each day eventually gave birth to rat pups that were significantly smaller than the offspring of rat mothers not exposed to nicotine.

Furthermore, the rat pups whose mothers were given nicotine developed heightened liver and circulating triglycerides — a sign that obesity could become an issue later in life.

It’s worth noting that the amount of nicotine given to the rats (1 milligram for each kilogram of weight) is significantly less than the nicotine usually given to humans undergoing nicotine replacement therapy.

Hardy acknowledges that nicotine replacement therapy is still preferable to smoking during a pregnancy, but insists more studies need to be done in order to gauge the full impact such therapy has on an unborn child.

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