SMOKING AND PREGNANCY

SMOKING is associated with decreased fertility, an increased abortion rate, lowered birth weight, an increased still-birth rate and possibly an increased death rate of new born babies.

There is also an increased incidence of high blood pressure in mothers (although the babies are at even greater risk), an increased incidence of haemorrhage before the birth &  impaired brain development in the baby.  These effects can be reversed if the mother gives up smoking during pregnancy.

The smoke you draw into your lungs is full of poisons.  These poisons are absorbed through the lungs in a pregnant woman’s blood and passed straight through the placenta into the baby.

The carbon monoxide from the cigarette replaces oxygen carried to its developing cells and so partially starves them of this life-giving oxygen.

Nicotine has an immediate effect on the brain cells, and there is a rapid concentration in the unborn baby’s brain within minutes of inhalation of tobacco smoke.   It remains in its body for some time, increasing heart rate and the clotting rate of its blood and narrowing the diameter of the blood vessels right throughout the body.

Th nicotine inhaled in one cigarette has been found to constrict the mother’s arteries for about 20 minutes, this lessens the amount of blood passing through the placenta to the baby.  Babies of smoking mothers are usually smaller than those of non-smokers.

Research has shown that these children are more susceptible to infections, especially chest infections in their first year and in early childhood.

A British follow-up survey at the age of seven years showed children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are not only smaller, but behind in reading ability compared with those whose mothers did not smoke.

It is important to remember that smoking around babies and children may increase their chances of developing a chest infection, and at worst, premature death due to SIDS ie Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

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