Pregnant women who find it more difficult to give up smoking could have an “addictive gene”, experts have suggested.
A study published in the Human Molecular Genetics journal found that women with the gene had a much lower chance of giving up cigarettes than those without it.
According to the study, 28% of pregnant smokers quit in the first three months compared with 21% of those with two copies of the gene and 31% without the gene.
The report showed that in the final three months of pregnancy, 47% of women with two copies of the non-addictive gene said they had stopped smoking.
This contrasts to just 34% of women with two copies of the addiction gene being able to stop.
Co-author of the research Professor Tim Frayling, said: “There are parallels with the obesity gene in that people think it’s matter of self control but it’s more complicated than that.
“It’s clear that some women with two copies of the addictive gene can give up, it just means it’s more difficult for some people than others.”
Meanwhile, supermarkets and off-licences will issue warnings to pregnant women highlighting the risks associated with drinking alcohol.
According to the Home Office, the warnings aim to prevent ‘confusion’ among the public on alcohol consumption.