Genetic influences on smoking cessation and relapse in pregnant women
Cigarette smoking during pregnancy continues to be a significant public health concern. Maternal smoking during pregnancy has been associated with low birth weight (<2500 g), fetal growth restriction, placental problems, pre-term delivery and spontaneous abortion. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are twice as likely to give birth to low birth weight infants, and smoking during pregnancy is estimated to be responsible for 20-30% of all low birth weight infants. Smoking during pregnancy not only affects placental function, thus causing obstetrical complications, but nicotine also crosses the placenta and acts as a neuroteratogen. This in turn, elevates the risk of cognitive and auditory processing deficits, and has also been found to be negatively associated with long-term consequences on offspring behaviour. In addition, smoking has negative long-term health consequences for both mother and child, including respiratory conditions, cancer and cardiovascular problems. This review provides insight into the genetic influences on smoking behaviour in pregnant women. In particular, the roles of genes in the neurotransmitter pathways are highlighted. It also emphasises the need for further research in this area, and provides rationale for the importance of focusing on pregnant women who are highly motivated to quit when researching smoking behaviours in women.
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