Why the Womb Should Be a Smoke-Free Environment
Think a cigarette or two early in your pregnancy won’t hurt your growing baby? Think again. Find out why stopping smoking now is essential not only for your health, but for your yet-to-be-born baby’s health, too.
While pregnant, the smoking mother puts her child at risk for premature separation of the placenta, called abruption, which is a devastating hemorrhaging event that can result in death of the baby and possibly even that of the mother, too. Additionally, nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it narrows the nutrition- and oxygen-carrying blood vessels to the baby. So, each and every drag of a cigarette not only means less oxygen and nutrition to the baby’s brain and other organs, but injury to the placenta, which is the crucial life-sustaining link between mother and child. Smoking also increases the risk that a child may develop leukemia. Each year, the research becomes even more frightening.
Pediatric asthma and the repeated upper respiratory infections (croup) are more likely in a smoking home. Spending three hours in an emergency room in the middle of the night, over and over, can get pretty old pretty fast. It’s unfair to the child, certainly, and no one from the tobacco industry is there to help out the next morning when you have to go to work anyway after such a traumatic night with your child.
Premature rupture of membranes, premature labor, and premature births are a higher risk with smoking pregnant patients. With neonatal intensive care bills often exceeding $2,000 a day for a single premature baby, the costs to our country become unfathomable.
Smoking has been found to be a risk factor in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). And allergies in children exposed to cigarette smoke are much greater than those of children not exposed to smoke in the home or in the car.
In spite of all this, 26 percent of women of reproductive age choose to smoke, and nearly a third of them continue to do so during pregnancy. But it may not be entirely their fault. Smoking is a very tough addiction. When I talk with internists and perinatalogists, I hear smoking referred to as being as addictive as heroin and cocaine.
With over 2,000 different chemicals in tobacco smoke, not one of them is nutritious or enriching for you, your baby, your family, your gender, or the generations to come. If you’re a smoker, please speak with your healthcare provider about healthy, safe ways to stop this dangerous practice.
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