Expectant mothers are advised to stop smoking. However, quitting cigarettes often results in weight gain and complications linked to obesity, such as hypertension. A recent study has revealed that the advantages of quitting outweigh the risks associated with ongoing smoking, such as stillbirths and premature deliveries.

Based on the results of the latest study published in the journal Hypertension, researchers suggest that pregnant women counseled to quit smoking should also receive counseling on nutrition and exercise to prevent excessive gestational weight gain.

"Cigarettes are a powerful appetite suppressant, so quitters tend to gain considerable weight, particularly when they are still going through withdrawal. The health benefits of quitting obviously exceed the dangers of extra weight for most people, but we wanted to see if that was true in pregnancy, where excessive weight gain poses significant dangers to both parent and child," Morgan Dunn, the lead author of the study explained the motive of their study, said.

The research team examined the pregnancy records of more than 22 million pregnant women and compared the outcomes among smokers, nonsmokers, and those who quit smoking early in pregnancy.

The study indicated that 6.8% of nonsmokers encountered hypertensive disorders, compared to 7% among consistent smokers and 8.6% among those who had quit smoking.

Quitters, even when they did not gain excessive weight during pregnancy, had the risk of hypertension, and the risk elevated with greater weight gain and greater total body mass index. Over 17% of quitters who crossed the weight-gain guidelines and became obese experienced hypertensive disorders.

Meanwhile, they noted that quitting was linked to more than an 80% reduction in stillbirth. The rate of stillbirth was 0.4% in both nonsmokers and quitters, while it was 2.3% in those who continued smoking.

Consistent smokers were also at a higher risk of preterm delivery, occurring before completing 37 weeks of pregnancy. The rate of preterm delivery was 14.3% for persistent smokers, 7.7% for nonsmokers, and 8.1% for quitters.

"We did find that quitting smoking during pregnancy was associated with significant extra weight gain above and beyond the weight gain others experienced during pregnancy, and we also found that quitting was associated with a significant increase in complications related to weight and blood pressure. However, the benefits in other areas more than made up for any problems related to weight gain, so we recommend that doctors advise patients to quit while offering nutrition counseling that might minimize the weight gain," Dunn said.