Researchers have found a common genetic variation that may explain why some pregnant women find it so hard to quit smoking.
When pregnant women smoke, they increase the chances that their baby will be born underweight, and that they may have problems during delivery. [Pregnancy Complications]
Knowing the importance of not smoking, women are more likely to quit smoking while they are pregnant than at any other time, but even with this knowledge, some women continue to smoke.
Researchers studied a genetic variation known to be associated with consumption of a larger number of cigarettes to see if it could be responsible for the fact that some women find themselves unable to quit smoking while pregnant. [Smoking During Pregnancy]
More than 7800 women were studied. Almost 2500 women were regular smokers up until they became pregnant. Researchers looked at whether women were able to stop smoking while they were pregnant, and how much they smoked during pregnancy, along with the genetic variation.
Twenty-eight percent of the women gave up smoking during their first trimester. When the group was divided into women who had two copies of the gene for smoking addiction and women who had two copies of the non-addictive gene, the rate of smoking cessation during the first trimester was 21 percent and 31 percent respectively.
The women were polled again in their third trimester. Again, responses were divided between women who had two copies of the gene for smoking addiction and women who had two copies of the non-addictive gene.
Thirty-four percent of the women in the first group had stopped smoking, while almost half, 47 percent, of the women in the second group had stopped smoking.
Other factors can make a difference in whether or not a woman quits smoking while pregnant. These factors include how old the expectant mother is, what her education has been, and whether or not her partner smokes.
The results of this study show that genetics can also play a role, though researchers stated that they did not want their study results to make women think that they could not stop smoking while pregnant.
Despite having two copies of the addiction gene, a considerable number of women were able to stop smoking. There are a variety of resources available to any person, pregnant or not, female or not, who wishes to stop smoking. Even if a pregnant mother is only able to reduce her smoking, she and her baby may still benefit.
Smoking and obesity have both been thought to be conditions which could be easily overcome through discipline and self-control, and there is a considerable amount of social stigma and pressure brought to bear on anyone who suffers from either condition.
Many scientists and health care professionals hope that understanding that common genetic variations will help more people understand that these conditions can be difficult to overcome due to the person’s physiological make-up.