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Updated on: Saturday, October 02, 2021, 07:03 AM IST

Pregnancy: A doctor reveals why smoking is extremely dangerous for a woman and her unborn child

This toxic habit can cause serious problems including miscarriage and premature labour, and doubles the possibility of having a low-birth-weight baby
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Most people are aware of the fact that smoking causes cancer and a host of other health problems and smoking during pregnancy is all the more dangerous — it can cause serious problems including miscarriage and premature labour, and doubles the possibility of having a low-birth-weight baby as compared to a woman who does not smoke during pregnancy. Low birth weight babies are more likely to catch infections, suffer from breathing difficulties and long-term health problems in adulthood and are also at a greater risk of death.

Passive smoking can cause health problems for mother and baby as well. It’s best to stop smoking before you get pregnant and if already pregnant, it is best to quit the butt as it helps protect you and your baby from health problems. If one has had a healthy pregnancy in the past despite smoking, there’s no guarantee of next pregnancy having a healthy outcome.

Both men and women alike get affected with smoking, in women, the egg quality spirals down and leads to trouble getting pregnant. Men on the other hand have decreased sperm count and motility, both affecting a man’s ability to father a baby.

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Harmful effects of smoking

Every time a pregnant woman smokes, the baby effectively smokes too. Harmful nicotine and around 4000 chemicals cross the placental barrier and have serious effects for the mother and baby as well. Smoking affects a baby’s growth before birth and even after a full-term pregnancy, the baby may be born too small.

  • More chances of premature birth and often premature babies have health problems.

  • Baby’s brain and developing lungs can be damaged by smoking that can last through childhood and into the teen years.

  • Risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery is doubled with smoking which can put both mother and baby in danger. Premature separation of placenta or placental accidents being more common with smoking.

  • Smoking increases the risk of birth defects, including cleft lip, cleft palate, or both.

  • Babies exposed to cigarette smoke after birth and those born to moms who smoked during pregnancy have a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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Quit the butt

While it is always better to quit the butt before pregnancy, however, quitting at any time of the pregnancy can certainly help babies to get a better start on the journey of life. It is never too late, consult your doctor about the best ways to quit smoking while pregnant or when planning to start a family. The positive effects of quitting can be seen as early a one day. When you control the urge to reach for the cigarette; baby will have better growth, will get more oxygen and has less chances of being born too early. Also, mother can breathe more easily and feel more energetic besides having less chances to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related diseases.

Tobacco smoke is a deadly mix of more than 7000 chemicals and staying smoke-free is important for better health of mother and baby as well. Moreover, when a child is born in a smoke-free environment, one can expect him / her to have fewer coughs and chest colds, fewer ear infections, wheezing problems and asthma attacks and a lower risk of lung problems.

(The writer is the Director of Nurture IVF Clinic and is based in New Delhi)

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Published on: Saturday, October 02, 2021, 07:00 AM IST
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