Thursday, April 16, 2015

Smoking and birth defects

December 16, 2012 by  
Filed under After

Sadly we all crossed path at some point with some smoking pregnant woman unconscious of the damages her bad habit can cause to the baby she’s carrying. It is no secret that smoking is bad for the health; but what about the effects on the health of the unborn baby?   Yet medical experts have long sound the alarm about pregnancy and cigarette, two things that do not fit together. Pregnant and smoking just don’t get along!

There are several reasons to encourage the future mothers not to smoke. First of all, if the pregnancy is planned, it is best to quit smoking before conceiving a child.  There are plenty of tools and assistance for women who are not pregnant and wish to quit smoking: nicotine patch, gum, breath spray. All these tools give the body a dose of nicotine to replace the one provided by cigarettes, and help to gradually discard the smoking habit. When a woman is pregnant however, it is not advisable to use products providing nicotine to her body. That’s why it’s easier to stop before than during pregnancy.

If pregnancy occurs while the mother still smokes, the best for the fetus is obviously to stop immediately. Sometimes, what the smoking mothers miss the most is the gestue of holding a cigarette. After mealtime or during a break, she sorely misses that cigarette! There are now new Smoke-Stop products on the market that do not contain nicotine, such as the electronic cigarettes.  These small devices, looking much like cigarettes in every respect, exhale placebo fume which is not hazardous to the health. They do not contain additives or harmful products, and they avoid the additional stress of not holding or lighting a cigarette. Just as a child finds solace with a blanket or a toy, many smokers find a comforting pleasure to simply hold their cigarette. And they find it terribly difficult to stay empty handed.

The child is the primary beneficiary when his parents stop smoking. For we must not forget that secondhand smoke is as harmful as actual smoking.  So if mom and dad smoke in the house, the so does the baby.   The medical journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery published a study indicating that a smoking mother increases the risk of having a baby with birth defects, often in the fingers or toes. The study concludes that smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day increase up to 29% the risk of having a baby with defects; a frightening number. This study was conducted on thousands of births in the United States in 2001 and 2002, and recorded 5,171 children born with birth defects. Many of these children had a mother who smoked.   When women smoke more than half a pack a day the risk of a child being affected with abnormalities climbs up to 78% in some cases. Some problems of these infants can lead to surgery and many further complications.

Experts report that some damage may occur before the woman knows she is pregnant. There are piles of scientific evidence indicating that smoking during pregnancy is harmful. Cigarette smoking is an addiction that creates dependency and also affects the unborn fetus.  If you are pregnant and you have trouble quitting, talk to your doctor.  He/she is in the best position to guide you towards solutions that will help you lose that bad habit. After all, isn’t the life of this little being relying on you worth the effort?  After birth it’s a safe bet that you will want to keep on the pleasant and healthy without cigarettes!

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