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A workshop entitled “The use of pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation during pregnancy”, sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), was held in Rockville, Maryland, on 19 May 1999. The goals of the workshop were: (1) to determine the current state of knowledge related to the use of pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation during pregnancy; and (2) to outline a research agenda to determine the effectiveness and safety of these pharmacotherapies. Attending the workshop were many of the academic experts working in this area in the USA and representatives from NICHD, RWJF, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT), and several pharmaceutical companies.
In the USA, of the four million women who deliver babies each year, approximately 0.8–1 million smoke during their pregnancies. Smoking has a substantial adverse impact on pregnancy outcomes including growth retardation, preterm birth, perinatal mortality, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and childhood behavioural problems. In developed countries, more than a third of all cases of growth retardation is caused by maternal smoking, and the more a woman smokes, the larger the effect on fetal growth. Stopping smoking is one of the major preventive measures likely to have a substantial impact on improving pregnancy outcome. Smoking most likely achieves its negative impact on pregnancy outcome through a number of mechanisms. These include the following: (1) nicotine is a toxin at the cellular level and also may act through its vasoconstrictive properties; (2) carbon monoxide—a major byproduct of cigarette smoking—binds to haemoglobin, resulting in a functional maternal anaemia; (3) carbon monoxide also …