Smoking During Pregnancy Slowly Kills Your Future Child, But It Is Never Too Late To Give It Up

Date July 17, 2018

Smoking is undeniably harmful at any stage of life. Moreover, this addiction has a negative effect on reproductive health in particular. Regardless of the sex, it reduces the conception probability by 40% in each cycle, but does not exclude its possibility. During pregnancy, smoking becomes particularly disturbing since it is not just about the quality of life of an adult woman, but also about the gravest consequences for an unborn baby.

The most common complications

The most serious pregnancy complications caused by chronic smoking include:

  • stillbirth;
  • premature delivery;
  • intrauterine growth retardation;
  • low birth weight.

It is also necessary to remember that smoking during pregnancy often leads to the development of various pathologies.

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1. Ectopic pregnancy.

Due to the prolonged smoking, structural and functional changes occur in the epithelium of the fallopian tubes, causing the inability of the fertilized egg to descend into the uterine cavity. As a result, the pregnancy begins to develop in the fallopian tube.

2. The premature outflow of amniotic fluid.

The most likely cause of this phenomenon is the uterine vessels spasm, leading to the violation of its contractility.

3. Placenta detachment.

Nicotine and carbon monoxide, which enter the bloodstream when smoking, not only damage the vessels of the mother's body, but also impact placenta – the life-supporting organ for the fetus. Its premature separation from the walls of the uterus is accompanied by uterine bleeding and threatens the life of both the child and the mother.

4. Gestational hypertension.

Gestational hypertension is the constant increase of blood pressure in a woman who did not suffer from hypertension before pregnancy. This condition not only worsens the mother’s well-being, but also aggravates the disturbed blood flow between the woman and the baby.

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The older the future mother becomes, the stronger the effect of cigarette smoke on the fetus is. According to a study conducted in the US in 2014, every cigarette smoked by a pregnant woman per day increases the risk of premature birth by 1%. And the smaller the mass of the fetus is, the less developed its internal organs are. All these complications are associated with the disruption of the oxygen and nutrients delivery.

What is the harm of tobacco smoke?

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 components, but the main effect on the fetus development is caused by nicotine and carbon monoxide (CO, carbon monoxide). These two substances lead to the reduced supply of the necessary resources a baby might need from the mother. Nicotine narrows the blood vessels, including the umbilical arteries, reducing the intensity of blood flow. Carbon monoxide binds to red blood cells instead of oxygen, minimizing the baby's ability to breathe.

Smoking during pregnancy is dangerous not only for the intrauterine development of the child. The consequences can be very long-term. Preterm infants are often born with undeveloped respiratory organs that can’t function independently. This means the first days or weeks of its life the baby will be connected to the device of artificial ventilation. In addition, children born by smoking mothers are more susceptible to bronchial asthma. Another fetus organ that suffers from a smoking woman is the heart. According to the 2011 study, congenital malformations in children of smokers are detected 50-70% more frequently than in infants whose mothers did not suffer from this addiction.

What to do?

Of course, ideally, you should stop smoking long before having a child. Ideally, it should happen at the stage of pregnancy planning. At the same time, when you start to lead a healthy lifestyle, it is important to eat correctly, increasing the chances for conceiving a baby. However, if it became an unexpected surprise for you, it’s never too late to change anything.

According to the studies conducted in the US in 2009, women who quit smoking in the first trimester had the same chance of healthy pregnancy and timely delivery as non-smokers.

Sometimes, it is rather difficult to get rid of this addiction, especially when you are alone. Therefore, try to ask relatives and friends to help with this challenge. Remember, it doesn’t matter when it may happen; giving up this habit gives a chance for the baby to breathe, eat, grow, and develop into a healthy person.

In 2018, WHO published a large-scale epidemiological study to assess the prevalence of smoking among pregnant women around the world. The leading countries were Ireland, Uruguay, and Bulgaria, where the proportion of those who didn’t want to give up this harmful habit among the future mothers was 38.2%, 29.7%, and 29.4%, respectively. In Europe, the prevalence of smoking among pregnant women is the highest – 8.1%, in America –5.9%, in Southeast Asia – 1.2%, the same in Australia and Oceania. The most non-smoking future moms were Africans – only 0.8%.

It is obvious that, despite knowing about the smoking harm, this problem is still relevant all over the world. Pregnant women face multiple restrictions in their habits; however, some of them should still be abandoned in order not to ruin the life of a future baby with your own hands.

Source: obstetrician-gynaecologist Lilith Nasibian

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

Pregnancy Smoking