Smoking During Pregnancy

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Smoking During Pregnancy

Cigarettes contain 43 known cancer-causing compounds as well as 400 other toxins including nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, ammonia, arsenic, DDT and hydrogen cyanide. Imagine what these chemicals and toxins do to the body. Now, imagine how harmful it would be to a developing, unborn fetus. As these harmful chemicals and toxins flow through the bloodstream of a pregnant woman, her blood vessels tighten, cutting off the baby’s only source for oxygen and nutrients. With each cigarette smoked, a pregnant woman denies her unborn baby of 20 minutes of sufficient oxygen levels. It is imperative that unborn babies are provided with optimum oxygen levels in order to grow and develop properly.

Zero cigarettes a day will always be better than even one … or even two. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a drastic difference between smoking a full pack a day as opposed to just a few. Smoking only one or two cigarettes a day will cause blood vessels to tighten, thus preventing nutrients and oxygen from flowing to the placenta.Smoking affects a baby’s weight and size. Some parents-to-be think they do not have to worry about low birth weights, which is a completely false notion. Some women are attracted to the idea of giving birth to a smaller baby, but stunting a baby’s growth while in the womb can result in the baby having long-term, lifelong negative effects. Pregnant women who smoke could have an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, placenta previa, placental abruption or vaginal bleeding. Pregnant women who smoke are twice as likely to give birth to their baby prematurely and with a low birth weight. Low birth weights are strongly correlated with infant death during the first year of life. Babies with low birth weights are more likely to be anemic, have developmental problems and possible blindness, poor vision and brain damage.

Smoking affects a baby’s body and lungs. Since smoking stunts growth in the womb, there is a good possibility that the baby’s body and organs will likely also be underdeveloped. This may mean that at the time of birth, which could very likely be premature, the baby’s lungs may not be able to function independently. They may be put on a respirator for weeks, but the troubles would continue. As the baby grows, it may have continuing breathing problems and may develop asthma. Smoking while pregnant can double and sometimes triple the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Experts believe SIDS occurs in babies with underlying vulnerabilities such as underdeveloped or abnormal organ function and/or breathing problems.

Smoking affects a baby’s heart and brain. Mothers who smoke in the first trimester are more likely to give birth to a baby with a heart defect. The risk of developing a congenital heart defect for babies born to mothers who smoke is up to 70% higher than that of non-smoking mothers. Smoking during pregnancy can produce lifelong effects on the baby’s brain. They are more likely to have low IQs, learning disorders, behavioural problems and brain damage.

Smoking cigarettes increases infertility in both men and women. For women, studies have suggested that due to the fact that smoking decreases blood flow to the organs of the body, that this results in vaginal dryness and various other sexual issues. Some experts have suggested smoking may also aid in the destruction of eggs while in the ovaries before they reach maturity, resulting in a lower egg count. Furthermore, smoking can be detrimental to fallopian tube health, make it more difficult for embryos to implant themselves in the uterus and may lead to diseases and genetic problems with various components of the female reproductive system. Heavy male smokers drastically decrease their sperm health. A recent study suggested a 75% decline in fertility amongst men who smoked when compared to male non-smokers.