Most people know that smoking is harmful to a growing fetus. But unless you know exactly what could go wrong, it may be difficult to give up this addiction. Currently, 13% of American women smoke while pregnant. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, there would be an estimated 10 percent reduction in infant deaths in this country if all pregnant women were to stop smoking! Here are some things you should know about smoking during pregnancy:
- Smoking makes it harder to conceive. Smokers (both men and women) have lower fertility rates. Also, a child born to a mother who smoked is more likely to have trouble becoming pregnant in the future.
- Smoke carries toxins through the umbilical cord and to the fetus. Smoking also replaces the oxygen a baby should be receiving with cabon monoxide. This can damage the placental function, and cause fetal heartbeat to rise.
- Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage and stillborn babies.
- Babies of smoking mothers are more likey to be born premature and with low birth weight. They have smaller organs and poorer lung function.
- Babies of smoking mothers get sick and need to be hospitalized more often. Problems includes respitory illness, asthma, and pneumonia.
- They are also more likey to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
- These babies have up to 30% more chance of being born with limb defects, such as extra or missing fingers or toes. Risks of cleft lip and palette have also been linked to mothers who smoke.
- Smoking increases the risk of a baby born with cerebral palsey and interferes with brain development.
If you are pregnant and still smoking, it is not too late! Every unsmoked cigarette will add to your babies chances of being born healthy. “Much of the damage caused by smoking can be reversed because your body is a living organism that has the ability to heal itself,” according to NetDoctor. Even moderate cigarette smoking is harmful to your baby, so the most important thing you can do is stop immediately and seek help. Don’t be embarrassed to let your doctor know you are having trouble quitting. He may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can.
Your baby can also be harmed by people smoking around you, so it’s important for your partner to quit, or at least stay well away while smoking. You should continue to maintain a smoke-free environment during your child’s developing years.