An alarming 15 percent to 29 percent of pregnant women smoke. It's no secret that these women are putting their own lives, as well as those of their unborn babies, at risk. And that's not to mention the other family members who may be breathing in the secondhand smoke.
Reasons to Quit
A pregnant smoker's baby appears to be at a greater risk for all sorts of health problems, including low birth weight, preterm delivery, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and child respiratory illnesses. Research also indicates that smoking during pregnancy may be linked to cognitive disorders, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), in children.
In 2004, the Surgeon General's office released a report on the harmful effects of smoking, including a special section devoted to unborn babies, infants, and children. Highlights from this report, The Health Consequences of Smoking, include:
- Low birth weight is the leading cause of infant deaths, resulting in around 30,000 newborn deaths annually in the United States.
- Babies exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are at twice the risk for SIDS.
- A mother's smoking during pregnancy reduces her baby's lung function.
- Nicotine may reduce the amount of blood in the fetal cardiovascular system.
- Nicotine is found in breast milk.
A pamphlet put out by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says, "Maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, preterm premature rupture of the membranes [and] placental complications ... "
Women who smoke face long-term health risks such as lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and cervical cancer, as well as premature aging of the skin, stained teeth, and a decreased tolerance for exercise—all good reasons to give up smoking.