Effect of Smoking during Pregnancy

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Filed under Health Tips

We all are aware of the health problems that can be caused by the habit of smoking. Your heart gets affected, lungs are affected and eventually every organ faces danger. There are extra potential problems for women who are pregnant. In the case of pregnant women, it is more likely that the problems get compounded and in the process, her unborn baby gets affected the most. Studies show that women who smoke during pregnancy on a continuous basis make the unborn child susceptible to numerous health complications. The same study also proved that there is a strong link between a pregnant woman smoking and her unborn child developing oral and facial abnormalities. In simple terms, smoking can disturb the healthy development of an embryo.

Impact of smoking on the embryo

There is a high chance your child will be born with a low birth weight, if you are unable to refrain from smoking while being pregnant. Babies with a low birth weight are significantly smaller than those born with normal birth weight. Low birth weight may also signify that the child may be of poor health and can develop a disability which may be permanent. Your child also faces an increased risk of developing heart disease and cancer which you might be suffering from as a smoker. This dangerous habit also increases the risk of giving birth to a stillborn baby.

Smoking while being pregnant might also result in premature birth along with other complications associated with pregnancy like sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. Despite having full knowledge of how smoking might affect pregnancy in a poor manner, there are women who ignore the warnings and thus face troubles during the whole tenure of pregnancy.

What are the risks associated with smoking while pregnant?

The risk of developing placenta previa, a condition where placenta grows near the uterus opening, is doubled in a pregnant woman who smokes. Placental abruption is also more likely to happen in a pregnant smoker than the woman who does not smoke. This condition occurs when the placenta separates itself from the uterine wall prematurely which may in turn lead to premature delivery, stillbirth and/or infant death in early stages. Research shows that developing placental abruption in pregnant smoking women is about thrice more than pregnant non smoking women.

Smoking during pregnancy may also cause ectopic pregnancy and PPROM among other conditions. PPROM means preterm premature rupture of the membrane. Keeping all these complications and many more associated with this condition in mind, women who are pregnant should be advised not to smoke during the whole tenure of pregnancy. These complications eventually bring in unavoidable health risks to your unborn child.

Relationship between birth complications and pregnant smoking women

It is necessary to understand why smoking while being pregnant is dangerous. This might help women decide by themselves why they should not smoke while being pregnant. The addictive substance and the main constituent of cigarettes, nicotine, along with poisonous gases like carbon monoxide, is inhaled when you smoke and passed into your bloodstream which eventually passes onto the embryo via the placenta. Nicotine is the ingredient which is toxic and also makes a person adhere to cigarettes.

Nicotine, when inhaled, makes less oxygen available to both the mother and her unborn child. This in turn demands heavy pumping of blood since it is blood which carries oxygen throughout your body. If your heart muscles are exercised more than what is normal, it becomes a problem for your unborn baby. Your unborn baby may develop respiratory or/and lung diseases.

Does passive smoking also affect an embryo?

First hand smoking or direct smoking has been proven to affect an unborn child if a pregnant woman smokes. Now studies show that even second hand smoking or passive smoking can also affect the unborn child. In fact, passive smoking aggravates the severity of complications brought over by smoking to an unborn child as well as for an expectant mother. This is because passive smoking releases a deadly combination of smoke of burning cigarette and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. The fact remains that the smoke discharged when the end of a cigarette gets burnt has more hazardous substances like tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, among others than the smoke which is inhaled by the smoker directly. This proves passive smoking has worse implications on an unborn child and the expectant mother than direct smoking.

The child of a mother who smoked while pregnant has an increased risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, allergies, asthma, and other health problems. Even the woman who carries a baby is prone to getting all these conditions; in fact her risk increases during this situation. Children who are exposed to second hand smoke also remain susceptible to reduced lung capacity and have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

A note about third hand smoking and other factors

A new study has revealed that even third hand smoking can cause difficulties for the unborn child and the mother. Third hand smoke contains toxic gases and particles which are left behind from cigarette or cigar smoking. The other remains of third hand smoke include lead, arsenic and carbon monoxide. These leftovers cling onto items like clothes, hair, couches and carpets even when the room gets cleaned. So when a baby or a toddler inhales these toxins, devastating health problems like asthma and other breathing issues, learning disorders and cancer may be developed over a period of time. Hence it is important for an expectant mother to keep herself and her baby away from these places.

It is important that proper education and counselling is given by a doctor, asking a pregnant woman to refrain from smoking in order to save and protect herself and her baby from unnecessary health complications.

Tags: placenta previa, Chrissie Swan, Ectopic pregnancy, Preterm birth, poor health
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