The Dangers of Smoking During Pregnancy
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for them. What are the consequences, however, of smoking while pregnant? What happens if you are exposed to a great deal of secondhand smoke while trying to conceive or while pregnant? These are important topics that need to be addressed so that women can make educated, and safe, decisions for themselves.
Approximately 14-20% of pregnant women smoke. For women who are on Medicaid, this number goes up to 30-35%. These numbers demonstrate the importance of understanding how smoking influences the fetus, the pregnancy in general and the expecting mother.
Risks to the Woman
The pregnant woman who smokes puts herself at more risk for having a difficult pregnancy and for miscarrying. Smoking can influence the functions of the fallopian tubes and can change the reproductive hormones and their balance. A smoker has two times as much risk for developing en ectopic pregnancy, a type of pregnancy that can be very dangerous for both the mother and the baby. Smoking also increases the risk of miscarrying, of having a premature birth, and of having trouble conceiving all together.
Risks to the Baby
It should be no surprise that smoking puts the fetus at risk. Smoking increases the chances that the baby will be born with physical problems including a cleft lop or a cleft palate. It also increases the chances of having a still birth and of having a low birth weight baby. A low birth rate is connected to developmental delays and to stunted development. Smoking during pregnancy also increases the chances that the baby will have respiratory disease and that it will have SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Even passive smoke can have negative influences on the health of a fetus and newborn. Studies have shown that a baby born in a home where there is secondhand smoke to the mother will have a birth weight of 25-50 grams less than is normal. If both the expecting mom and another person in the house smoke, there is even greater risk of birth weight problems and of still births.
The research clearly shows that smoking is terrible for the health of a pregnant woman and of her developing fetus. Smoking makes it harder to get pregnant, harder to stay pregnant, and harder to have a healthy baby. The risks clearly indicate that women who want to become pregnant, and those who want to have a healthy baby, should not smoke. Hopefully, smokers will read this information, become educated, and make the right choices for themselves and their babies.
Chat with women about the adverse effects of smoking and second-hand smoke in pregnancy in our pregnancy forum.