Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy
Smoking is a major health issue worldwide. Several awareness programs appeal to people to quit smoking and in spite of a warning printed on the cigarette packets, 10 million cigarettes are sold per minute worldwide.
Smoking has tremendous ill effects on our body and the great news is that there is no controversy on this fact. Cigarette smoke contains more than 2500 chemicals. It includes highly dangerous chemicals like nicotine, tar, lead, cyanide, carbon monoxide and more than 60 cancer causing substances.
Hundred million people died due to smoking in the 20th century. One person dies in every 10 seconds due to tobacco and would kill ten million people a year by 2025 as projected by World Health Organization.
Smoking during pregnancy
If smoking can be so dangerous to human being in normal circumstances, there is no doubt about the ill effects of smoking during pregnancy. Some studies also suggest that smoking is the number one reason for adverse effects on babies during pregnancy. Smoking cigarettes leads to cancer, lung and heart disease.
It has been found that a woman who smokes more than half a pack a day is likely to suffer from infertility and irregular menstrual cycle. Menopause often occurs earlier in women who smoke. During pregnancy, when your body is the only source of nutrients to the baby, smoking would surely cause problems for the baby.
Effects of smoking on baby
When a pregnant woman smokes, the chemicals especially carbon monoxide and nicotine reaches to the baby crossing the placenta through the blood stream. Nicotine tightens the blood vessels throughout the body including the umbilical cord thus reducing the supply of oxygen to the baby. In addition to that, the red blood cells that carry oxygen start picking the carbon monoxide molecules instead of oxygen. Your baby and the placenta are deprived of oxygen and other important nutrients required for the development because of these harmful chemicals. When placenta is deprived of oxygen, it expands itself to occupy more surface area of uterus to have more oxygen and nutrients.
Due to the expansion, the placenta becomes thin creating the risk of placental abruption. Also because of this deprivation, the baby is more likely to have low weight at the time of birth.
The other risk associated with the woman who smokes while pregnant are
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Increased risk of stillbirth
- Increased heart rate
- Increased risk of placental abruption i.e. placenta separates from the wall of uterus thus cutting off all oxygen to the baby
- Increased risk of premature birth. Babies born prematurely have other complications like they suffer from breathing problems, sleep disorders and lungs complications.
- Babies born to a smoking mother have aggressive behavior.
- Smoking during pregnancy has effects on the brain of the baby and the child might suffer from low IQ and learning disabilities.
Women who smoke have a greater chance of loosing the baby than the women who do not smoke. Many experts recommend that woman should stop smoking before, during and after pregnancy. A woman who continues smoking after pregnancy can pass nicotine to her baby through breast-feeding.
Many women have accepted that it is very difficult to quit and they have depended on the alternatives. On the positive side, pregnancy is a great time to quit smoking. At least think of your unborn child who may have to suffer serious illness due to your smoking habits.