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  • 1 August 2021 to 31 January 2023
  • Project No: 524
  • Funding round: FR1

Smoking in pregnancy harms babies and their mothers, causing serious complications such as miscarriage and stillbirth, and babies who are born poorly needing special care. It is really important that women stop smoking before they are pregnant, or as early in pregnancy as possible. Many women find stopping smoking difficult but, as smoking in pregnancy is so harmful for babies and their mothers, research shows that just cutting down the number of cigarettes smoked helps their babies to be born healthier.

Nicotine makes cigarettes addictive. Using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help people to quit smoking by reducing their cravings, without them breathing in the harmful substances in cigarette smoke. The NHS encourages non-pregnant people who cannot stop smoking to use NRT to help them to smoke less. However, this is not an option for pregnant women who use NRT as, due to worries about them receiving too much nicotine, they are told not to smoke any cigarettes.

In this study, we will ask pregnant women what they think about using NRT to cut down smoking rather than for quitting. We will also try to find out whether or not pregnant women who use NRT but also smoke, smoke fewer daily cigarettes.

To do this we will use information recorded on a smartphone ‘app’ which women have already given us. There is no similar information available anywhere in the world. On each of the first 28 days of trying to stop smoking, women have told us how many cigarettes they smoked and how much NRT they used. This means that, we will be able to work out how strongly pregnant women’s use of NRT affects the number of cigarettes they smoke. This will be the first time that anyone has tried to find this out.

If we find out that the more NRT women use, the less they smoke, we will then plan studies to see if pregnant women who are not able to stop smoking can successfully use NRT to cut down on smoking, paving the way for the NHS to introduce this way of supporting pregnant women.

Amount awarded: £41,056

Projects by themes

We have grouped projects under the five SPCR themes in this document

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.