Clearly know that smoking is dangerous to the baby can prompt many women to try to quit.(Increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birthweight, death from SIDS, and learning and behavior disorders.)
According to the research, the estimates are about 12 percent of pregnant women smoke.
“Dr. Renee Goodwin, a Columbia University epidemiologist, tracked more than 1,500 pregnant women who took part in a larger study of Americans’ health. A surprising 22 percent smoked at some point during pregnancy, and about 12 percent were classified as nicotine-dependent.
But strikingly, 30 percent of the smokers had a mental health disorder, as did more than half who were nicotine-addicted — and the vast majority suffered depression. The smokers were about three times as likely to have a disorder as pregnant nonsmokers, Goodwin recently reported in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke can act in the brain like weak antidepressants, says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“They are not just smoking to get the habit-forming aspects,” Volkow explains. “On top of that, they are seeking the therapeutic effect. It comes at a very, very high cost.”
It can be hard for the depressed to realize when they need help. And chances of relapse increase when would-be quitters feel worsening sadness, lethargy or other depression symptoms.”
So the advice to stop smoking when you are pregnant is not new. But what has been missing is treatment interventions to help women who are smoking and depressed, stop smoking.
A new project in Texas called, Project Baby Steps: A Mood Management Intervention for Pregnant Smokers is a smoking cessation program aimed at helping women who also struggle with depression to quit the habit. More than 250 pregnant smokers are testing whether a form of cognitive therapy for depression helps them kick the habit better than anti-smoking counseling alone.