Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Nicotine Patches Fail Most Pregnant Smokers

Poor Adherence Seen in Nicotine Replacement Study; Safety Issue Still Not Settled
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 29, 2012 -- Nicotine replacement therapy is widely used to help smokers kick the habit, but new research raises major doubts about its effectiveness during pregnancy.

The largest clinical trial ever to examine the use of nicotine patches in this setting found little evidence that the treatment helps pregnant women stop smoking.

Adherence with therapy was very low, with fewer than 1 in 10 women still wearing the patches after one month.

Nicotine Replacement During Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, birth defects, and even sudden infant death.

Most women who smoke are highly motivated to stop when they become pregnant, but many are not successful.

Researcher Tim Coleman, MD, of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, says it is clear that standard-dose nicotine replacement therapy is not a useful strategy for helping them achieve their goal. And at this point, it’s not clear if nicotine replacement is totally safe for pregnant women, adding to Coleman’s argument.

The study appears in the March 1 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

“There is no evidence that standard-dose nicotine replacement therapy works, so I can’t see much point in recommending it to women who are pregnant,” he says.

According to the CDC, about 45% of women who smoke prior to becoming pregnant give up the habit during pregnancy, but more than 1 in 10 women (13%) in the U.S. report smoking during their last three months of pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch