In my last article here I wrote about herbal supplements which can help in the battle to stop smoking, as they are beneficial in treating the addiction to nicotine, and the other substances in cigarettes (lobelia, in particular, is chemically very similar to nicotine so it can safely be used as a non-addictive nicotine substitute). These herbs also help to reduce stress and promote calmness, which is one of the problems associated with quitting. Read more
A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry makes the alarming statement that there is a proven association between smoking whilst pregnant and the development of bipolar disorder (BD) by the children of smokers as they progress into adulthood.
The research was carried out using data collected during the Child Health and Development Study from 1959 to 1966. Of the 654 comparison subjects who took part in the study, 79 cases clearly showed that maternal smoking whilst pregnant doubled the risk of the women’s offspring developing bipolar disorder when they grew up. The project was a collaborative exercise undertaken by the New York State Psychiatric Institute, the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in California and the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
The chemicals and toxins produced by smoking tobacco during pregnancy are well known to be dangerous to the unborn child. Babies born to smokers often have a low birth weight and behavioural difficulties, including ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). However, until now there has been no scientific research to suggest an association between smoking during pregnancy and bipolar disorder. Bipolar is a serious psychiatric disorder which causes mood swings characterised by bouts of mania and severe depression and does not usually manifest itself in sufferers until early adulthood or the late teenage years.
The study’s findings serve to emphasise the dangers of smoking during pregnancy and the wholly preventable dangers presented to the unborn child, many of which do not become apparent until that child is older. Other psychiatric disorders associated with tobacco exposure whilst in the womb include; ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), CD (Conduct Disorder), ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and various substance abuse problems. Whilst not officially filed under exactly the same label as these disorders, bipolar does share similar clinical characteristics; inattention, loss of self-control, irritability and the proclivity to alcohol/drug abuse.
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, another study by the same group of experts found that pregnant mothers who smoke and also suffer from flu during their pregnancy have four times the risk of producing a child who would later go on to develop bipolar disorder.
So, if you’re pregnant and you smoke and you care about the health of your unborn child; quit. There’s no excuse.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.
For many women having a healthy baby is something they dream of since their childhood. But for women who smoke this is not always the case. There are more than 10% of women who smoke throughout their pregnancies. Statistics calculate that 1 in 5 babies have low-birth weight, increased preterm deliveries and babies are 3 to 4 times more likely to die of SIDS(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Asthma among infants and young children has been linked to mother's who smoke and the odds of developing asthma is twice as high with children whose mothers smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day.
It is harder for women who smoke to become pregnant and they are more apt to have a miscarriage. One million babies are born each year worldwide to mothers who smoked during pregnancy. When a baby still in the womb is exposed to such dangerous compounds as nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar it can cause the womb to pull away from the uterine wall too early and cause bleeding which is dangerous for the baby and the mother. U.S. health care costs for newborns of mothers who smoke is estimated to be $740 per smoking mother or $366 million a year.
Babies that are born to women who smoke are much more likely to have birth defects such as cleft palate or lip, limb abnormalities, club feet, congenital heart defects, down syndrome, undescended testes in boys, abnormally shaped faces, missing or shortened arms and legs. And if both parents smoke the risk is even higher.
In a study published in the journal called Neuropsychopharmacology it reported that women who smoked while they had babies in the womb could give birth to babies with smaller brains(less grey and white matter) and that the baby would be more apt to be at risk for anxiety and stress. It is suspected that tobacco can affect the developement of babies by destroying neurons, arteries becoming clogged, and also reduce oxygen flow because of narrowing the blood vessels. Experts now believe that exposure to tobacco while a baby is in the womb can cause disorders psychologically from childhood to young adulthood.
Dr. El Marroun, of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands said that 'The results of the current study in combination with the existing literature about the long-term effects of pre-natal tobacco exposure emphasize the importance of preventing and reducing cigarette smoking during pregnancy."
Many women are able to stop smoking when they become pregnant but those with mood disorders find it harder to do so. Experts have found that from one third to one half of pregnant women who smoke do have mood disorders. Finding help for depression is harder because of the fear of anti-depressant type medicines hurting the baby.
After the baby is born nicotine and other harmful materials from the tobacco smoke can be passed through the breast milk to the baby and affect it right way. Babies who are exposed tend to sleep less and are more apt to have colic. Breastfeeding is felt to be healthier than bottlefeeding. Breastfeeding provides many immunities that help the baby ward off illness.
There are several things a mother who breastfeeds and smokes may experience. These include lower milk production, early weaning, an interference with milk 'let-down'(milk ejection), prolactin is in lower levels, and in some areas iodine deficiency. It is important to smoke after breastfeeding never before.
Cigarette smoking and exposing second hand smoke to other people can both cause health issues. In the U.S. there are 88 million adults and children that do not smoke that are exposed to others smoke. There is no safe level of breathing in another person's cigarette smoke. Nearly 32 million children 3-19 are exposed to other people's smoke from cigarettes. To protect yourself and your family from smoke you must make some conscientious decisions. One is to ask people not to smoke around you and your family and making your home a smoke-free environment. Small babies should never be held by someone that has just smoked. Smoke permiates the clothing and can cause problems over time. Infants can develope asthma, get ear infections, eye irritations, allergy related illnesses, croup and SIDS in the very young. Make sure that day cares, restaurants, and places where you do business are all smoke free. Teach your children to stay away from smoke. If your children have respiratory conditions, if you have COPD or heart disease, and if you are pregnant, you are more in danger from the effects of smoke.
From just one day of not smoking your baby in the womb will be getting more oxygen. There is less of a risk that your baby will be born too early if you stop smoking. And you will have a better chance of that little bundle of joy coming home with you if you made the decision to stop smoking during your pregnancy. Quitting smoking within the first three or four months of pregnancy can lower the chances of a baby being born premature or having any health problems related to smoking. Not smoking will give you more energy after you give birth. You will breathe easier, food will taste better, and you will smell better. You'll have cleaner teeth, fresher breath, fewer skin wrinkles, no stain marks on your fingers, you will have a better sense of smell and taste, and more money to spend on your baby.
There are those who feel that changing their cigarettes to 'low tar', 'mild' or 'light' is a better choice during pregnancy. The less you smoke or are around smoke the better you and the baby will be. The best choice is to quit smoking completely so you will have both a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Thank you for reading my piece. I hope you will vote for it if you like it.
The crowd was hushed when the man on the stage raised his hands. Thousands of people bowed their heads in solemn silence as a solitary man knelt in front of him. Mustering all his strength and with a thundering voice he shouted “By the power vested on me; on my hands, I command you!” his hands were Read more
Have you caught yourself thinking, “I’ll just have one”? This is one of the biggest lies people tell themselves when going through withdrawals. You feel stress or maybe your cravings feel worse than ever. It’s easy to think that you’ll only have one and that will take care of the craving. It’s a harsh reality but giving in, even just once, is very likely to completely set back your progress. Having “just one” turns into “just one more” then “this will be the last one”. It might be tough, but just tell yourself no. Instead, try out one of these techniques: Read more
For many smokers, having a cigarette is a social thing. In the past you’ve smoked in bars and restaurants, and in the modern world of the smoking ban in public places smokers will nip outside of the pub together for a smoke and a chat. The trend of ‘smirting’ where fellow smokers get to flirt outside of a bar or nightclub has taken off and the huddle of smokers outside a building in all weathers can even look like fun!
In the workplace, smokers gather in car parks, in smoking huts or just outside of company premises for a nicotine blast, a moan about the bosses and to catch up on the latest gossip. In a former workplace of mine the smoke-room was the place to find out what was going on in the workplace and who was dating who etc.
It’s difficult then to move away from this social circle and some people trying to quit will cut themselves off from smoking friends or even avoid places such as bars and restaurants where temptation might come their way and somebody will say “fancy nipping outside for a cigarette?”This isn’t a long-term strategy and will only make you resent the efforts you are making to quit.
The truth is, to quit properly you need to be able to not smoke in the situations where usually you would. This means saying no when somebody offers you a cigarette or suggests a quick smoke outside. The key to doing this is rehearsing some lines for different situations and to use with different people. At first you might want to keep your efforts to give up to yourself, but further down the line you should begin to tell people that you no longer smoke. Here are a few examples:
“Not just at the moment, I’m really busy and I’m trying to cut down.”
“It’s too cold for me out there right now, you have one and I’ll keep a table for us.”
“No thanks, I’m trying to give up and just having one or two at home.”
“Not for me, I’m ten days without a cigarette now and want to keep going till I hit a month smoke-free” “I’ve given up for Lent.”
“Haven’t you heard? I don’t smoke any more. You should try giving up as well, you’ll save a fortune and feel all the better for it!”
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.
I see a show of hands at the back over there. Okay fine, everybody is raising their hands. All kidding aside, we might call it an experiment in personal behavioral economics. Many have undertaken very similar research in various forms. Here are some of them that I find to be genuinely very interesting. Read more
Anti-tobacco laws targeting young smokers have been tightened by Euro MP's today. The intention is to dissuade youngsters from beginning smoking but there are some measures which do not go as far as was hoped.
A European Commission proposal which would have seen e-cigarettes treated as medicinal products was rejected. This will come as a relief to manufacturers as the move would have placed restrictions on sales. There will be a ban on flavoured cigarettes to be implemented by 2022 but with a delay of five years for menthol. Slim cigarettes escape a ban.
It had been hoped that plain packaging would be voted for but instead there will now be health warnings on 65% of each pack not 30% as is currently the case, rather than the 75% which was proposed. Packaging which is designed to look like lipstick or perfume containers will now be banned. Later on this month the UK House of Lords will debate the possibility of introducing standardised packaging for cigarettes. Research shows that the standard sized packets make health warnings stand out much more.
Italy and the UK now join the other EU states in banning packs of ten cigarettes which are popular among young smokers with the minimum pack size now becoming twenty. Small packs of roll-your-own tobacco will not be banned.
Further proposals include a ban on the terms; light, mild and low tar as these are considered misleading.
There have been mixed reactions among MEPs and although the measures have been broadly welcomed, some have accused MEPs of pandering to the powerful tobacco companies by voting for a watered down version of the proposals. There has also been criticism from the pro-tobacco organisation, Forest which maintains that banning products will merely drive them onto an unregulated black market.
E-cigarettes continued to court controversy. Campaigners allege that vaping undermines decades of anti-smoking efforts and could actually encourage children and those who currently don’t smoke to take up the habit which could lead to nicotine addiction and ultimately to smoking tobacco.
It seems that a lack of scientific evidence about the health implications of using e-cigarettes is the reason for the cautious approach to their regulation. Until such time as their effect on public health, harmful or otherwise, can be proven the debate will no doubt continue to rage on.
They say that idle hands are the devil’s tools and certainly for long-time smokers, quitting means there are several more minutes, maybe even hours in the day to fill. For those with busy enough lives this may come as a blessing, but for many in the process of giving up cigarettes, keeping mouth, hand and brain occupied can be an important part of the Read more
Lung cancer is the most common fatal cancer worldwide affecting both sexes and the primary cause is smoking – fact. It’s also a medically proven fact that inhaling other people’s second-hand smoke can also cause lung cancer. Children’s lungs are particularly delicate and susceptible to damage from cigarette smoke and the tar and chemicals it contains. Read more