What Are The Risks Of Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking Reduced Certain Risks Slightly But It Doesnt Mean You Should Start

The Effects of Moms Who Smoke During Pregnancy

Interestingly enough, researchers found that smokers had reduced rates of preeclampsiaa pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and liver or kidney damage. If left untreated, preeclampsia could lead to premature births or the need for C-section.

But researchers warned that the lower rate of preeclampsia could simply be related to lower birth weight of the babies among smokers.

The risks associated with smoking during pregnancy still far outweigh any perceived benefits,” Dunne explains.

I should point out that this does not mean that the authors believe smoking is beneficial, she says. These findings may just be a consequence of doing a very large database study without having detailed information about the context of each pregnancy.

Dunne also points out that large association studies like this one don’t necessarily infer causation, but they can help guide future research that will hone in on the finer details of cause and effect.

Both Feferkorn and Dunne say that while quitting smoking is undeniably difficult, its an essential step in ensuring your babys well-being.

I tell my patients: Do your best to quit or cut down on cigarette smoking or vaping. I know that quitting is hard and it often takes many attempts to kick the habit. Dont be too hard on yourselfjust keep trying, Dunne says. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for the babys health. Its worth the effort.

Effects Of Nicotine During Pregnancy: Risks And Dangers

For some people, it just doesnt seem feasible. But maybe it could be the push you need to get you to quit for good.

So, in the hopes that it will motivate you to quit, Im going to share with you some of the risks associated with smoking and nicotine while you are pregnant.

And this article is also going to cover whether nicotine passes through the placenta, and it will differentiate between smoking tobacco and taking nicotine in other forms, such as vaping.

Please feel free to scroll ahead to any section that jumps out at you. Here goes.

Going Back To Smoking After Pregnancy

If you stopped smoking during the nine months of pregnancy, and now with your baby at home you are tempted to start smoking again, you should know that it is still very harmful to the babys health . No one should smoke in front of children, as we are turning them into passive smokers, and it has serious consequences for the health of our children.

If you succeeded during pregnancy, you can continue without tobacco now that your baby shares life, home, with you. Both the mother and the father should not smoke in the places of the house where the baby is also, or where he will be.

In addition, smoking in front of our children makes tobacco consumption normal before their eyes, and they do not see it as a risk to their health, since mom and dad do it.

For a life without tobacco, inside and outside the womb!

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Nicotine Replacement Therapy During Pregnancy

It is recommended that you first try to stop smoking without medication. However, if you are unable to quit, you may use nicotine replacement therapy to help you. While using these products is considered safer than smoking, even this smaller amount of nicotine may not be entirely risk-free for your baby.

If you are pregnant, it is important to talk with your doctor before using nicotine replacement therapy to discuss the risks and benefits of using it. The Quitline counsellors can also help you decide what support is best for you.

Increases Fetal Heart Rate

Smoking During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Childhood Obesity

Smoking during pregnancy affects the fetal heart rate. An increase in the fetal heart rate caused by maternal smoking is an indication that tobacco smoke toxins are passing through the placenta and into the fetus circulation9. Overly fast heartbeats in the fetus result in shallow contractions that do not pump enough blood. As a result, the fetus can suffer heart failure10.

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Is It Safe To Use E

No. E-cigarettes contain chemicals, like nicotine, that can harm you and your baby. Flavors and other chemicals in e-cigarettes may be harmful to you and your baby. Breathing in someone elses e-cigarette vapor also may be harmful. More research is needed to better understand how e-cigarettes affect women and babies during pregnancy.

If youre pregnant and using e-cigarettes, talk to your health care provider about quitting.

Stop Smoking During Pregnancy

If you have not managed to quit smoking before pregnancy , and you are already pregnant, it is a good time to reduce consumption, and the ideal is to eliminate it completely.

If you do not look prepared, or you have doubts, go to your health center, talk to your midwife or your gynecologist. They will help you quit smoking, and they will explain the best methods to achieve it. There is no better motivation to quit tobacco than the life of our child growing within us.

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How Does Your Smoking Affect Your Unborn Baby

The umbilical cord is your babys lifeline. Blood flow through this cord provides your baby with oxygen and the food it needs to grow. Every puff you take on a cigarette has an immediate effect on your baby. Carbon monoxide replaces some of the oxygen in your blood, reducing the amount of oxygen received by your baby through the umbilical cord. Smoking also affects how the placenta forms, and reduces the nutrients crossing the placenta to your baby. Cigarette smoke also contains many other harmful poisons, which pass through your lungs and into your bloodstream .

Download our Pregnancy and Smoking brochure for more information.

How Smoking Affects Your Baby

Smoking during pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy exposes your baby to harmful chemicals. Every time you smoke, the baby effectively smokes too, as harmful nicotine and other chemicals pass through the placenta and into the fetus. Smoking also reduces blood flow for your baby.

Smoking while pregnant can result in a far higher risk of:

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Alternative Forms Of Nicotine Delivery

Noncombustible products, such as snus, dissolvable tobacco, and electronic nicotine delivery systems , have nicotine-related risks and an increased risk for oral cancer similar to that of chewing tobacco 2728293031. Studies demonstrate an increased risk of altered fetal autonomic cardiac regulation and nicotine withdrawal in neonates born to women who used snus during pregnancy, effects that are similar to those found in women who smoke tobacco 3233. Although more research is needed to quantify the perinatal effects with use of these products in pregnancy, the risks of noncombustible product use should be discussed.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems are used by smokers who commonly believe that they are a safer and healthier alternative to cigarettes that will aid their smoking cessation efforts 3839. A survey of pregnant women who smoked found that 14% reported using e-cigarettes to help with smoking cessation 40. However, nearly two thirds of adults who use e-cigarettes continue smoking cigarettes 41. Standardization of e-liquid and heating mechanisms is needed to better describe and understand the health effects of these products on pregnant women, fetuses, and offspring and to understand their role, if any, in smoking cessation.

Is It Okay To Smoke One Cigarette A Day While Pregnant

The risk to a fetus has not been proven to decrease significantly when you cut down on the amount of or strength of cigarettes you smoke. It is much better to quit smoking as early as possible for your health and the health of your unborn baby. You can quit smoking at any time while pregnant.

Nevertheless, quitting during your first 15 weeks of pregnancy offers the greatest benefits for your unborn child. If you can quit smoking before your third trimester, you will minimize the possibility your baby may be born underweight.

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Increases The Risk Of Stillbirth And Miscarriage

Wondering how does smoking affects pregnancy in the first trimester? Both early miscarriage and stillbirth are associated with maternal smoking. This is often caused by the harmful chemicals in cigarettes. As the fetus develops rapidly during the first few days after conception. Chromosomes are highly susceptible to damage caused by chemicals like nicotine. Chromosomal problems are one of the most common causes of miscarriages.

Nicotine combined with hypoxia has a vasoconstrictive impact. This could decrease the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the embryonic tissues resulting in congenital defects. So heavy smoke exposure can potentially cause miscarriage1. In addition, smoking can affect the efficiency of the placenta. Thus, there will be a decline in the placentas ability to transport nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. These problems can also result in a miscarriage or stillbirth. As such, nicotine and CO may have adverse effects on fetal development2.

Known Risks Of Smoking While Pregnant

Smoking: before, during and after pregnancy [INFOGRAPH]
  • Miscarriage
  • Having a low-weight baby who is more vulnerable to infection and health problems in adulthood
  • Pre-term delivery
  • The baby being born with a cleft lip or cross-eyes
  • The baby being born with weaker lungs, which may persist into adulthood
  • The baby having a weaker immune system
  • The baby being overweight or obese in childhood.

In rare cases the life of the baby may be endangered as smoking also increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the risk of the baby dying at, or shortly after, birth.

But the good news is if you quit at any stage of your pregnancy there are health benefits for you and your baby.

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How Can Smoking Affect Your Baby

When you smoke during pregnancy, chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar pass through the placenta and umbilical cord to your baby.

These chemicals are harmful to your baby. They can lessen the amount of oxygen that your baby gets. This can slow your babys growth before birth and can damage your babys lungs and brain.

If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to:

  • Be born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • Have birth defects, including birth defects in a babys mouth called cleft lip or cleft palate. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. They change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. Birth defects can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops or how the body works.
  • Have low birthweight. This means your baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Die before birth from miscarriage or stillbirth. Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Die of sudden infant death syndrome . SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. SIDS usually happens when a baby is sleeping. Its sometimes called crib death because the baby often dies in his crib.

If you smoke and are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, tell your provider. Your provider can help you quit.

Characteristics Of The Included Studies

Most reviews were published since 2010. Only 13 reviews investigated a health condition related to mothers the other 49 reviews analysed infant-related conditions, except two which evaluated the impacts on both. Key characteristics of the included reviews are provided in Additional file : Table S2.

In most reviews , the included studies were predominantly from HICs, and 22 of the included reviews covered studies from HIC only. In two reviews most of the included studies were concerned with upper-middle-income countries.

In 12 reviews, the country of focus of the included studies was not provided. However, one of them conducted a meta-analysis of the studies from Europe only, and in five reviews, the language of the included studies was either only English or languages which are only spoken by HICs. In the remaining six reviews there was no indication of whether the studies focussed on LMICs or HICs. Nevertheless, when interpreting the results of these reviews, the possibility that studies which were conducted in LMICs have been included in addition to HICs should be born in mind.

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How Does Smoking Affect Fertility Hormone Production And Conception When Trying To Get Pregnant

Smoking cigarettes can have negative health effects on fertility, making it harder to conceive.

Research shows that:

  • Smoking can reduce fertility,1 making it difficult to conceive.
  • Smoking may negatively affect hormone production.2
  • Smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke can harm the reproductive system.2
  • Smoking can damage the DNA in sperm.3

If you or someone you love is trying to conceive and uses tobacco, learn more about what its like to quit smoking and get started on the path to a smoke-free life.

Health Effects Of Smoking And Secondhand Smoke On Pregnancies

Smoking during pregnancy warning
  • Women who smoke have more difficulty becoming pregnant and have a higher risk of never becoming pregnant.2,4
  • Smoking during pregnancy can cause tissue damage in the unborn baby, particularly in the lung and brain, and some studies suggests a link between maternal smoking and cleft lip.1,2
  • Studies also suggest a relationship between tobacco and miscarriage. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke can keep the developing baby from getting enough oxygen. Tobacco smoke also contains other chemicals that can harm unborn babies.1,2

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Abruption Of The Placenta

As we are well aware, the placenta is known as the lifeline in pregnancy that forms to provide nutrition and oxygen to the fetus. Smoking during pregnancy is one case where it could be a major risk with complications during pregnancy, linked to the placenta.

To name one condition the placenta abruption. Here, the placenta detaches or separates from the uterus, even before childbirth, which can also cause severe bleeding causing life-threatening situations in both, the mother-to-be and the unborn baby. In situations like these, there is no possibility of treatment or surgery to reattach it, with immediate medical attention needed to increase the chance of a healthy birth irrespective of the abruption.

Smoking During Pregnancy Can Cause Problems For Your Child In Later Life

Smoking during pregnancy can impair your childs health for years to come. Health effects may include:

  • weaker lungs
  • higher risk of asthma
  • low birth weight, which is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in adulthood
  • up to three times the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy .
  • increased risk of being overweight and obese in childhood
  • increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .

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How Will I Feel When I Quit Smoking During Pregnancy

The benefits of not smoking start within days of quitting. After you quit, you and your baby’s heartbeat will return to normal, and your baby will be less likely to develop breathing problems.

You may have symptoms of withdrawal because your body is used to nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes. You may crave cigarettes, be irritable, feel very hungry, cough often, get headaches, or have difficulty concentrating. The withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. They are strongest when you first quit but will go away within 10-14 days. When withdrawal symptoms occur, stay in control. Think about your reasons for quitting. Remind yourself that these are signs that your body is healing and getting used to being without cigarettes. Remember that withdrawal symptoms are easier to treat than the major diseases that smoking can cause.

Even after the withdrawal is over, expect periodic urges to smoke. However, these cravings are generally short-lived and will go away whether you smoke or not. Don’t smoke!

If you relapse and smoke again do not lose hope. Of the people who quit, 75% relapse. Most smokers quit three times before they are successful. If you relapse, don’t give up! Plan ahead and think about what you will do next time you get the urge to smoke.

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Impacts Of Smoking During Pregnancy On Infants

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Studies found a smoking-related increased risk for 20 conditions and the highest impact was observed for sudden infant death syndrome , asthma , LBW , stillbirth and obesity . Studies did not find any significant association between 15 conditions and SDP, including autism, brain tumors, breast cancer in daughters and testicular cancer in sons. On the other hand, a protective impact on skin defects was observed in one review .

Most studies investigating the impacts of SDP on infants conducted a meta-analysis , and only nine did not include this . In these studies, there was no significant relationship between maternal SDP and lung functions, or Tourettes syndrome.

The age group of study participants varied between studies for example, some conditions were assessed amongst infants while some were measured in adults. In some reviews, participants were both infants and adults. Table lists health conditions by the life stage they were assessed.

Table 1 Health impacts of maternal SDP on infants by life stages

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Longer Term Effects Of Smoking While Pregnant On Children

Smoking while pregnant can have further-reaching implications for your child. Babies and children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are at increased risk of:

  • asthma, chest and ear infections, pneumonia and bronchitis
  • psychological problems in childhood, such as attention and hyperactivity issues, as well as adverse behaviour
  • performing poorly at school.

When a woman stops smoking during pregnancy, all the risks described above decrease .

Baby Being Born With Abnormalities Or Birth Defects

Smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of a baby being born with abnormalities, or some kind of birth defect.

Face defects typically include the likes of cleft lip or cleft palate, or both.

This is when a babys lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy, and it can take years and years of surgeries to put right.

Whats more, it typically leads to difficulties with both their feeding and their speech.

Studies have shown that active smoking is associated with a whopping 27% increased risk of cleft lip or palate.

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