THURSDAY, May 19, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Electronic cigarettes may help women who are pregnant to stop smoking, according to a study published online May 16 in Nature Medicine.

Peter Hajek, Ph.D., from Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 1,140 pregnant women who smoked were randomly assigned to e-cigarettes (569 women) or nicotine patches (571 women).

The researchers found that validated prolonged quit rates at the end of pregnancy did not significantly differ between the two groups (6.8 percent for e-cigarettes versus 4.4 percent with patches). During the study, some participants in the nicotine patch group also used e-cigarettes. When excluding abstinent participants who used nonallocated products, e-cigarettes were more effective than patches (6.8 versus 3.6 percent). Adverse events and birth outcomes were similar for both arms, although low birthweight (<2,500 g) was less frequent in the e-cigarette arm (14.8 versus 9.6 percent).

“Given the questions that remain about the potential risks of nicotine in pregnancy, stopping smoking without nicotine-containing aids is preferable to switching to such products,” the authors write. “Only when the choice is between using nicotine products such as nicotine replacement therapy or e-cigarettes or continuing to smoke, the use of nicotine replacement therapy or e-cigarettes would be the recommended option.”

Several authors disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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