It is common knowledge these days that smoking whilst pregnant can harm your unborn baby. It is certainly very much frowned upon and rightly so! In fact, recent research has shown that the harm can be even more serious and far-reaching than previously suspected. Smoking can actually hinder conception in the first place, irrespective of which of the partners smokes. Additionally, it seems that adults born to mothers who smoked have a reduced chance of becoming parents themselves.
Regarding the pregnancies themselves, women who smoke whilst pregnant are more likely to have miscarriages. Smoker mothers-to-be are also more at risk of placental problems, such as the placenta rupturing, and an ectopic pregnancy (where the foetus implants itself outside the womb, most commonly in one of the Fallopian tubes). These foetuses cannot survive, and this type of pregnancy can be very dangerous for the mother, even resulting in her death. Smoking also increases the risk of birth defects.
The major way in which smoking harms the foetus is that it restricts the oxygen supply, so that the heart of the unborn has to beat that much harder. Babies born to mothers who smoked during the pregnancy are more likely to be still-born or underweight, and around 200 g lighter than babies born to non-smoker mothers (that actually reminds me of an ironically amusing newspaper article I saw on this subject once, the title of which was: "Smoker Mothers Have Lighter Babies."!!! Pun intended?) The baby is also more likely to die of cot death, if the mother smoked. (The medical name for cot death is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).) In fact the risk is trebled, if the mother was a smoker. Smoking can also lead to inadequate breast milk production, for breastfeeding mothers.
These babies are also more likely to need hospital treatment in the first year for respiratory conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia. In later life children of these mothers are also more likely to suffer from asthma and more serious illnesses. A recent study has also suggested that babies born to smoker mothers are more likely to suffer from congenital heart defects.
With all this long-term harm that can be caused, no one should even consider smoking whilst pregnant, that is blindingly obvious.
Hope you got something from reading this blog, and your votes and comment are much appreciated.
Picture courtesy of www.doctorsecrets.com