Stillbirth Among Women Prescribed Nicotine Replacement Therapy in Pregnancy: Analysis of a Large UK Pregnancy Cohort



We aimed to compare risk of stillbirth between maternal smokers and those prescribed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) during pregnancy.

Aims and Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional analysis on a pregnancy cohort of 220,630 singleton pregnancies ending in live or stillbirth between 2001 and 2012 from The Health Improvement Network UK general practice database. Women were categorized into three groups: NRT (prescribed during pregnancy or 1 month before conception); smokers; and controls (nonsmokers without a pregnancy NRT prescription). We calculated Odds ratios (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) for stillbirth in the NRT group and smokers compared to controls.


A total of 805 pregnancies ended in stillbirth (3.6/1000 births). Absolute risks of stillbirth in NRT and smoker groups were both 5/1000 births compared with 3.5/1000 births in the control group. Compared with the control group, the adjusted odds of stillbirth in the NRT group was not statistically significant (OR = 1.35, 95% CI 0.91 to 2.00), although it was similar in magnitude to that in the smokers group (OR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.77).


We found no evidence of a statistically significant association between being prescribed NRT during pregnancy and odds of stillbirth compared with nonsmoking women. Although our study had much larger numbers than any previously, an even larger study with biochemically validated smoking outcome data and close monitoring of NRT use throughout pregnancy is required to exclude effects on findings of potential exposure misclassification.

Research Language