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In a plea supported by Cancer Council Australia, study author Dr Yael Bar-Zeev and her team at the University of Newcastle, said that doctors can feel confident in prescribing NRTs to their pregnant patients.

The PHE had said that if NRTs are safe to use during pregnancy, there is no reason to believe that nicotine in e-cigarettes is a problem.
“We know that smoking has a significantly detrimental impact on the fetus, it leads to things like low birth weight, prematurity and a doubling of the risk of stillbirth,” said Cancer Council CEO Professor Sanchia Aranda. “What this study shows is that nicotine replacement therapy is as safe as we can make it, there’s no evidence of adverse effects on the fetus and so the health risks of smoking are considerable and if this helps women give up then that’s a good thing,” added the professor.

The study authors pointed out that clinicians refrain from prescribing NRTs during pregnancy, due to safety concerns and low levels of confidence in their ability to prescribe the products. In animal studies, nicotine was found to be  harmful to the fetus, especially for brain and lung development, however in human studies no harmful effects were recorded on the fetus. “Nicotine may not be completely safe for the pregnant mother and fetus but it is always safer than smoking,” the researchers concluded.

“What this study shows is that nicotine replacement therapy is as safe as we can make it, there’s no evidence of adverse effects on the fetus and so the health risks of smoking are considerable and if this helps women give up then that’s a good thing.”Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Coucil

What about electronic cigarettes?

This particular study did not mention electronic cigarettes, however an official Public Health England blog posted last year, had said that any risk obtained via vaping during pregnancy is a fraction of that caused by continuing to smoke. The PHE guidance focuses on carbon monoxide as the most harmful substance for unborn babies, and clears up a lot of the confusion about nicotine. Finally, the PHE had concluded by saying that if NRTs are safe to use during pregnancy, there is no reason to believe that nicotine in e-cigarettes is a problem.

Read Further: The Sydney Morning Herald

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