Smoking during your pregnancy?

“Cigarette smoking is unequivocally the largest and most important modifiable factor for low birth weight and infant death “ Associate Professor Krisa Van Meurs, Paediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine.

The smoke that burns off the end of a cigarette actually contains more harmful substances than the smoke inhaled by the smoker. Infants are particularly sensitive to the negative effects of passive smoking. “It’s a little like forcing the baby to breathe through a straw!” Nicotine crosses the placental barrier into the amniotic fluid and foetus in levels that exceed those of the mother. Nicotine is measurable in breast milk of mothers who smoke and mothers who are exposed to passive smoking.

Amongst the women who had spontaneous miscarriages 28,9% used cocaine and 34,6% smoked cigarettes. Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow and the blood flow to the placenta leads to the dying off of the placenta.

There is a 33% increase in the foetus dying after 20 weeks gestation amongst women who smoke with a significant increase in premature births and possible complications that result from a premature birth. For mothers smoking one pack a day the increased risk of perinatal mortality is 20%. For mothers who smoke more than 1 packet per day have a 35% risk of perinatal mortality. A wide variety of cognitive and behavioural deficits have been identified in the children of women who smoked in pregnancy e.g. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Cigarette smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of childhood cancer. There is a relationship between cigarette smoking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Maternal smoking is one of the most predictive risks associated with SIDS. It is thought that the effects of nicotine affect the central control of breathing in the infant. Colic, asthma, respiratory infections and childhood obesity risks are higher in infants whose mothers smoked in pregnancy.

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