Exercise effective in helping pregnant women kick the habit

Sep 23, 2008

Exercise could be a useful tool in helping pregnant women to give up smoking, according to new research published today in the open access journal BMC Public Health. Despite the warnings, 17% of women in the UK and 20% of women in the US still admit to smoking during pregnancy. This often leads to lower birth weight, higher infant mortality, and is linked to learning difficulties, problem behaviour and asthma in childhood.

Most attempts to give up smoking unaided end in failure. The most successful methods of stopping smoking involve a combination of nicotine replacement and behavioural therapy, but there are concerns that nicotine replacement may harm the fetus. Exercise can reduce the cravings experienced by smokers and there is some evidence to show that it can help non-pregnant women to quit.

Michael Ussher and colleagues from St George's, University of London conducted two pilot studies into whether physical exercise could feasibly help pregnant women quit smoking.

For both studies, pregnant women over 18, who smoked at least a cigarette a day, were recruited 12 to 20 weeks into pregnancy. In one study, women did supervised exercise once a week for six weeks; in the other, women did two sessions of exercise a week for six weeks, then one session a week for three weeks. The participants were also encouraged to do additional exercise on their own and all received advice and counselling towards stopping smoking and becoming more active.

A quarter of the 32 women recruited for the studies gave up smoking before giving birth. This is similar to the number of non-pregnant smokers that quit using nicotine replacement. Furthermore, participants reported other positive benefits including weight loss, improved self-image and reduced cravings.

According to Dr. Ussher, "These results are very encouraging and we are now conducting a randomised controlled trial with 850 women. Regular exercise is ideal for any pregnant women who smoke as it's obviously safe and the benefits are enormous".

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Brazil to study legalization of medical marijuana

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Golden retriever study sniffs for cancer clues

Sep 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—Michael Court is a scientist and a dog lover, so he jumped at the chance to enroll his golden retriever in a nationwide study aimed at fighting cancer and other ills in canines.

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

19 hours ago

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

20 hours ago

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

Infertility, surrogacy in India

20 hours ago

Infertility is a growing problem worldwide. A World Health Organization report estimates that 60-to-80 million couples worldwide currently suffer from infertility.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.