|NIDA-Supported Study Shows Significant Association
between Smoking, Mental Disorders in Pregnant Women
Alert to Healthcare Providers: Research Supports
the Benefit of Screening for Mental Disorders in Pregnant Women Unable
to Quit Smoking
New research has identified an association between mental disorders
and nicotine dependence among pregnant women in the United States,
not unlike what has been reported in the general population. The
presence of these mental disorders in nicotine addicted pregnant
women may make quitting smoking more difficult. Published in the
April 2007 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, this study
was supported in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),
part of the National Institutes of Health.
The study included 1,516 pregnant women at least 18 years old
who took part in the 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey of
Alcohol and Related Conditions, a nationally representative survey
of more than 43,000 U.S. adults administered by the National Institute
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Researchers found that 21.7 percent of the pregnant women in the
study used cigarettes and among those women, 57.2 percent were
nicotine dependent. These results indicate that in the United States
an estimated 12.4 percent of pregnant women are addicted to cigarettes.
Women with nicotine dependence were more likely to meet criteria
for at least one mental disorder compared to those that did not
use cigarettes during pregnancy. Significant associations were
found for dysthymia (a chronic depressive condition), major depressive
disorder, and panic disorder.
“Understanding that these co-morbidities exist may shed light
on why some women are unable to abstain from smoking during pregnancy
even though they understand the negative health impact for them
and their unborn children,” says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "There
is tremendous value in screening pregnant women who are unable
to abstain from smoking for mental disorders — to not only
identify and treat those who have been undiagnosed but also to
improve successful quit smoking attempts.”
Encouraging women to quit smoking before they become pregnant
is important to the health of the fetus, in addition to improving
the health of the mother. Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes run
an increased risk of having infants with low birth weight and their
children face an increased risk for learning and behavioral problems.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National
Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects
of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large
variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research
information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact
sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information
on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA
home page at www.drugabuse.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.