Is Nicotine Patch and Smoking same for pregnant women?

Is Nicotine Patch and Smoking same for pregnant women?

If you are a pregnant woman, and dreaming about your son or daughter’s new arrival to your family and life, then you need to think about this. Just, simply stop smoking or using the nicotine patch.

The International Child Care Practices study (ICCPS) conducted research in 21 centers in 17 countries to find out the ration of smoking parents during pregnancy.

Pregnant woman smoking a cigarette

The results revealed that up to 22% of mothers and 45% of fathers do smoke during the period of pregnancy.


Smoking a cigarette by a pregnant woman is not a normal act since the mother is actually risking the health of the unborn baby she is carrying.

Smoking during pregnancy can invite a number of birth defects to the infant such as premature birth, low or poor weight infants, prolonged birth, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and more.

In order to overcome such a filthy situation, carrying women often choose the Nicotine Replacement Therapy, which is considered to be the best and easiest possible way to quit smoking.

When you talk about nicotine replacement therapy, the best way or the best aid among the NRT is the Nicotine patch. But, the alarming fact is that using such patches will actually spike the nicotine in the mother’s body, which the same is observed when she is smoking.

This is even agreed by the medics that, using a nicotine patch can worth the NRT, but it can potentially harm your baby if used by a woman during pregnancy. But, up to 30 Percent of doctors recommend the nicotine patch to the pregnant women, while the others don’t.

Dangers of Smoking on pregnant woman

Let’s see how the nicotine patch works.

Ted Slotkin, the professor of pharmacology at the Duke University School of medicine, North Carolina, United States through light on this issue. Ted says, “The answer is not very well or not at all.”

According to a study in 2012 by England Journal of Medicine states that, though the nicotine patch or the Nicotine replacement therapy is claimed to be the best ones for pregnant women, on the other hand, they may not be helpful.

However, most doctors agree the point of the treatment, based on one thing. It’s like, the nicotine that is administrated through the patch or the nicotine that is taken through the smoking are the same.

But, the nicotine that is taken through the therapy is far better, as the additional hundreds of chemicals like carbon monoxide are not included in patches, while the same such obnoxious chemicals are present in the cigarettes.

These obnoxious chemicals gained via smoking can potentially damage the fetal cells.

“It’s much better than [the pregnant mother take] nicotine instead of all the other smoke products because they’re going to cause lung cancer and other things,” says Ted Slotkin.

This is even further confirmed by the researches of Maria Morales-Suarez-Varela, University, Spain, which was cited in the Daily Mail.

The study mentioned that “Nicotine is fetotoxic, but one could argue that if nicotine replacement (patches, gum, or inhalers) is the only effective smoking cessation tool, for some pregnant women it is a better alternative than smoking because hundreds of potentially harmful substances are replaced by a single one,”

“On the other hand, nicotine substitutes have a different absorption route and may reach higher peak values.” Revealed by the study.

Effect of Nicotine on mother and Fetal development

If a pregnant woman decides to stop her smoking habit and starts the nicotine replacement therapy, will it still affect the fetal development? – “an awful lot”, Says Ted Slotkin, the professor of pharmacology at the Duke University School of medicine.

Furthermore, some animal studies conducted revealed that there is a connection between the nicotine patches and birth defects.

Biologically, the Nicotine that is incorporated inside the body, interacts with the endogenous receptor of the brain and lungs and causes the developmental defects and abnormalities.

A study conducted in the year 2007 by R Wickström reported that, “Logically, nicotine replacement should be safer than smoking, but several animal studies indicate that the total dose of nicotine that the fetus is exposed to maybe what really matters for brain development,” but, the next year in 2008, K Strandberg‐Larsen team came up with a different study and results.

The study reported that the use of NRT during the pregnancy period does help the mother and does not show any risk upon the unborn baby.

How to control Nicotine in pregnancy

No matter whether you have been smoking for a long time or you smoke for the first few weeks of your pregnancy, without knowing that you are carrying, the situation is still bad to be worried.

The solution for this is to, immediately quit smoking and which can be a nightmare for some ladies.

But, according to the professor Slotkin, if you are not able to quit nicotine through smoking, you may use the nicotine patch than the usage of Nicotine gum or lozenges.

This is because, the nicotine patch can deliver the nicotine in a constant range penetrating your skin, while the nicotine gum or the lozenges may vary in the range of nicotine delivery.

As a result, nicotine patch aids in reducing the amount of nicotine exposed to the baby.

In another study conducted by Dr. Cheryl Oncken (2008) of the University of Connecticut Health Center contradicted the report of Slotkin.

The report mentioned that nicotine gum is found to be healthier over the usage of a nicotine patch.

He mentioned that “This study suggests that two milligrams of nicotine gum does not increase smoking cessation rates, but may reduce overall tobacco exposure during pregnancy,” and concluded.

“Nicotine gum was associated with greater birth weight and gestational age than placebo gum, yielding parameters similar to those of a nonsmoker.”


To conclude, whether the nicotine replacement therapy is good for pregnant women, the choice is left to the addict and the physician. However, with no further thoughts, taking nicotine in any form is going to harm your health and lifestyle and no matter you are pregnant or not.

Just quit nicotine. Life is precious.