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J Midwifery Womens Health. 2017 May;62(3):253-269. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12616. Epub 2017 May 29.

Tobacco Harms, Nicotine Pharmacology, and Pharmacologic Tobacco Cessation Interventions for Women.


Firsthand and secondhand tobacco use is linked to a multitude of harmful illnesses, adverse perinatal outcomes, and death. Cessation attempts among women may be hampered by their unique biologic response to nicotine. Current research has revealed epigenetic changes from intrauterine nicotine exposure that have intergenerational consequences. Multiple studies have demonstrated the efficacy of various pharmacologic tobacco cessation interventions in conjunction with behavioral counseling. Based on this evidence, the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) 2015 guideline recommends pharmacologic therapy for all nonpregnant persons who smoke in addition to behavioral counseling. The effectiveness of pharmacologic treatments among pregnant women is less clear, with far fewer studies evaluating potential benefits and harms. While exposure to pharmacologic therapies raises concerns for fetal safety, these potential risks must be weighed against those of continued tobacco use, which guarantees fetal exposure to nicotine. First-line tobacco cessation medications include nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion, and varenicline. Second-line medications include nortriptyline and clonidine. Pharmacokinetics, effectiveness, regimens, and safety profiles for nonpregnant, pregnant, and lactating women are reviewed. Alternative tobacco cessation options and potential new pharmacologic tobacco cessation agents are discussed. Initiating brief interventions, using the 5A's and 5R's model is described.


breastfeeding; bupropion; clonidine; electronic nicotine delivery systems; nicotine; nicotine replacement therapy (NRT); nortriptyline; pregnancy; smoking; smoking cessation; tobacco cessation; varenicline

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