Pregnancy and smoking: A strict no-no

December 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Pregnancy

Cigarette smoking is injurious to health.  I doubt there would be anyone, who is unaware of the fact. Still it is surprising the percentage of population that chooses to indulge in smoking. That being said, it still is a personal choice, which slowly becomes more of an addiction. What is even more disheartening is the fact that many mothers to be still continue to smoke throughout or until a very late stage of pregnancy.  Whether it is because of ignorance or the lack of self-control, the point still remains, that one should be aware of the dire effects that smoking could have on unborn as well as newborn babies. Even the ones who make a conscious decision to stay away, passive smoking is something that leaves very little control in hands.

Smoke coming from a cigarette is loaded with chemicals with numbers going as high as more than 2000.  Few of these chemicals such as carbon monoxide, tar, nicotine etc have been long known to interfere with the developing fetus.

One of the common risks of smoking on pregnancy is ectopic pregnancy, that is the embryo fails to be implanted on the uterus and rests on an organ other than that such as the fallopian tube. This is usually the result of heavy smoking especially during the first trimester. It is needless to mention that this kind of pregnancy is fatal for the embryo almost about 100% of the times as the fetus fails to obtain its due protection and nutrition. In addition, this type of pregnancy can even be risky for the mother.

Another common complication of smoking during pregnancy is placental complications such as “placenta previa” in which the placenta is connected with the uterus at a lower position, sometimes as low as at the cervix. Smoking also causes a constant deterioration of fetal growth which presents as developmental abnormalities or mild effects such as low birth weight. These neonates are in additional risk of diseases like mental retardation, cerebral palsy and even death. Additionally, babies born to smoking mothers could suffer from sudden infant death syndrome and the survivors can be victims of asthma, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.

Effects of smoking are so pronounced that they continue to be harmful at a post delivery stage. Babies from mothers who smoke regularly or who smoke while breastfeeding can be equally at risk.

Nicotine, which is the main chemical ingredient of cigarette, can be passed onto the baby from breast milk. Several assays such as urine tests have indicated the presence of nicotine in these babies.

Many researchers believe that mothers, who smoke during the early years of their child, are also putting them at the risk of turning them into smokers themselves at a later stage. This could be a result of addiction or a behavioral result, but it has now been shown to be true very extensively.

So the take home message her is that even if the mothers decide to ignore their own health, all children born in this environment have a right to be born and brought up in a smoking free environment at least in their formative stages of life. The only advise for all moms-to-be is that your baby is not entitled to be forced to suffer from the far and deep seeded dangers associated with cigarette smoking. The least you could do for your child is to quit smoking as long as it takes to keep them safe.

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