Smoking and Pregnancy
Studies suggest that smoking increases the risk of preterm deliveries (delivery before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy). In addition, smoking nearly doubles the risk for having a low-birthweight baby. Almost 12 percent of babies born to smokers in 2004 in the US were low birthweight (less than 5.5 pounds), as opposed to nonsmokers, where the rate of low birthweight was 7.2 percent.
Source: The March of Dimes
Although fewer women are smoking during their pregnancy now than ever before, the habit still persists among many women. In addition, even if a pregnant woman does not smoke, she may be exposed to secondhand smoke in the household, workplace, or in social settings.
Smoke can be damaging to a fetus in several ways, and may cause the following:
- low birthweight
- preterm birth
- increased risk of birth defects
Subsequently, babies born to smokers may also have the following problems:
- poor lung development
- asthma and respiratory infections
- increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- physical growth deficiency
- intellectual development deficiency
- behavioral problems
The mother, too, may experience problems during her pregnancy as a result of smoking, including, but not limited to, the following:
- placental complications
- preterm labor
- infections in the uterus
Researchers believe the effects of carbon monoxide (which reduces oxygen in the blood) and nicotine (which stimulates certain hormones) cause many of these adverse effects.
Babies of mothers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have reduced fetal growth and low birthweight.
However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if a woman quits smoking early in her pregnancy, she increases her chance of delivering a healthy baby.
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Online Resources of Pregnancy & Childbirth