In the United States, about 13 percent of women are smokers during pregnancy.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, over 1000 babies die annually as a result of maternal smoking during pregnancy.
Adverse outcomes during delivery are caused when mothers smoke during pregnancy.
Nicotine and carbon-monoxide are the most dangerous chemicals contained in cigarettes that threaten the delivery of healthy babies.
Other chemicals like tar, lead, arsenic and cyanide also add to pregnancy woes and affect health of mother and the foetus.
Consequences of smoking during pregnancy have been discussed.
Complications in Pregnancy
Smoking causes undesirable complications during pregnancy and upsets the chances of a healthy and safe vaginal delivery. In fact, smokers find it difficult in the first place to get pregnant.
Smoking during pregnancy can result in the following:-
- Increases risk of miscarriage. Pregnant smokers are comparatively more susceptible to miscarriage and stillbirths, than normal pregnant women.
- The risk of placenta getting separated from the uterine walls prematurely is more in smoking women, which can cause excessive vaginal bleeding. Thus risk of placental abruption and placenta previa are more in case of smoking women.
- Increases risk of ectopic pregnancy, wherein the embryo originates in the fallopian tube and will mostly not result in successful delivery of the baby.
- Increases risk of pre-term delivery.
Dangers to foetus while in the womb are as under.
- Weight gain becomes difficult for the foetus.
- Increased heart rate
- Risks of cardio-vascular problems and other heart defects
- Delayed lung development
Health issues in the new born infant
Babies born to smoking mothers may have to use a respirator for proper breathing. They may have to stay longer at hospital.
- Smoking mothers tend to give birth to underweight babies. This affects the health of the baby and the development of immune system. In addition to this, risks of chronic and behavioral ailments like cerebral palsy and learning disabilities stand enhanced.
- There is an increased probability of babies being born with cleft lip or palate.
- Cases of new-borns dying unexpectedly, called as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is associated with smoking.
The second-hand and third-hand smoking victim here is your baby
When the mother smokes, the foetus inhales poisonous chemicals from tobacco that is absorbed by the placental tissues. This hinders the healthy supply of both oxygen and nutrients to the foetus.
When mothers are exposed to second hand smoking, risks of lung problems, ear infections, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma increase, both for mother and the baby.
This is the reason why experts urge even fathers to quit smoking. Third-hand smoking perils occur when babies are exposed to gases and toxins left from smoking, on furniture, hair, clothes etc.
Since babies have small lungs, the risk is more hazardous to them than adults.
It is advisable to quit smoking even before you decide to conceive. Women must exercise adequate caution while quitting and choose a safe method with professional help, if needed.
Smoking cessation products like nicotine patches, gums and e-cigarettes, must be used with great care and caution during pregnancy, lest they endanger health of mother and baby.