Nicotine Replacement During Pregnancy Linked To Colic

An emerging study reveals that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) used during pregnancy is linked to colic in babies. The study suggests it may be nicotine that is at the root of increased risk of colic in infants exposed to these stop-smoking treatents.

The observational study reviewed more than 63,000 infants and was just published in the journal Pediatrics. The participants were provided information on nicotine exposure in utero and colic symptoms, as recorded at age six months of age, said Modern Medicine.

Risks for infantile colic were increased in babies exposed to nicotine versus unexposed infants, said Modern Medicine; partners’ smoking was not linked to infantile colic after adjusting for maternal smoking. Overall, said the researchers, 46,660 infants (73.9%) were not exposed to nicotine during pregnancy, 207 (0.3%) were exposed to NRT, 15,016 (23.8%) were exposed to cigarette smoking, and 1,245 (2.0%) were exposed to both NRT and cigarette smoking, wrote Modern Medicine. A total of 4,974 (7.9%) babies met infantile colic criteria.

Because most of the mothers were exposed in some way during and after pregnancy to nicotine, the authors could not distinguish between early, late gestational, and postnatal exposure to nicotine; however, the link between smoking during the first and second trimesters and infantile colic was less than for smoking throughout the pregnancy.

NRT use during pregnancy is on the rise and, while study authors say the findings do not contraindicate NRT for women who are unable to stop smoking while pregnant, they do call for additional research on the safety of NRT during pregnancy, said Modern Medicine.

We’ve written that nicotine-containing tobacco replacement products might be linked to mouth and throat cancers. Nicotine chewing gums and lozenges, meant to help consumers quit smoking via nicotine doses, might be creating the potential for these cancers, according to research previously published in the journal PLoS ONE

Tobacco is the addictive component in cigarettes and has long been excluded from cancer and heart disease concerns. Because of this, quit smoking products, such as nicotine patches, inhalers, and chewing gum, have been geared to tapering the nicotine addiction without including the dangerous tar and other carcinogens found in cigarettes.

Research looked at how head and neck cancers develop, specifically at the gene critical to cell division and reproduction, known to cause a variety of cancers when mutated. The researchers studied the cells in healthy people and in those with various stages of head and neck cancers while also looking at how tobacco and the betel nut which is chewed in areas in Asia instead of tobacco impacted the mutated gene.

The researchers from the Institute of Dentistry, Queen Mary University London, studied the FOXM1 gene, which is found in early stages of mouth cancer and thought to play a part in initial stages of head and neck cancers; nicotine may be involved certain cancer development when the FOXM1 gene has mutated. The study found that the risk for cancer was present if the nicotine replacement products were used long term.

Tobacco cessation products typically advise against long-term use; however, many ex-smokers tend to rely on the products for years. An issue of some concern since the researchers concluded that if a person had a mutated gene present in his/her mouth, use of nicotine replacement products could potentially increase FOXM1’s activity.

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