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Prescribing of nicotine replacement therapy in and around pregnancy: a population-based study using primary care data

Dhalwani, Nafeesa N.; Szatkowski, Lisa; Coleman, Tim; Fiaschi, Linda; Tata, Laila J.


Nafeesa N. Dhalwani

Professor of Primary Care

Senior Research Fellow in Health

Laila J. Tata


Background Licensing arrangements for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the UK were broadened in 2005 to allow prescribing to pregnant smokers. However, estimates of NRT prescribing in pregnant females in the UK are currently lacking.

Aim To assess trends in NRT prescribing around pregnancy, and variation in prescribing by maternal characteristics.

Design and setting Population-based descriptive study using pregnancy data from The Health Improvement Network primary care database, 2001–2012.

Method NRT prescriptions were identified during pregnancy and in the 9 months before and after. Annual prescribing prevalence was calculated. Logistic regression was used to assess females’ likelihood of receiving prescriptions by maternal characteristics.

Results Of 388 142 pregnancies studied, NRT was prescribed in 7551 for an average duration of 2 weeks. The prescribing prevalence of NRT increased from 0.03% (0.7% in smokers) in 2001 to 2.6% (11.4% in smokers) in 2005, after which it remained stable. Prescribing prevalence of NRT before and after pregnancy was half the prevalence during pregnancy. The odds of prescribing NRT during pregnancy in smokers increased with socioeconomic deprivation (OR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.15 to 1.45 in the most compared with the least deprived group). Prescribing was 33% higher in pregnant smokers with asthma (OR = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.22 to 1.45) and mental illness (OR = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.23 to 1.44) compared with smokers without these diagnoses.

Conclusion NRT prescribing is higher during pregnancy compared with before and after, and is higher in smokers from more socioeconomically deprived groups, those with asthma or those diagnosed mental illness.


Dhalwani, N. N., Szatkowski, L., Coleman, T., Fiaschi, L., & Tata, L. J. (2014). Prescribing of nicotine replacement therapy in and around pregnancy: a population-based study using primary care data. British Journal of General Practice, doi:10.3399/bjgp14X681361

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 11, 2016
Journal British Journal of General Practice
Print ISSN 0960-1643
Electronic ISSN 1478-5242
Publisher Royal College of General Practitioners
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Article Number e554-e560
Keywords nicotine replacement therapy, pregnancy, prescribing, smoking cessation
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