March 1, 2013 at 9:42 am
The smoking ban in public places has been followed by a fall in the number of babies born before 37 weeks in three successive years.
This new research was carried out in Belgium and based on 600,000 births between 2002 and 2011, and published in the British Medical Journal.
The hope is that the new data will persuade more governments to introduce smoking bans because of the public health benefits to passive smokers.
What effect does smoking during pregnancy have on the baby?
Pregnant women who smoke are harming their babies and their own health. When they inhale tobacco smoke over 4,000 chemicals pass into their lungs and bloodstream, and then cross the placenta to their baby’s tiny body.
Those chemicals can affect their baby’s growth rate because they stop essential nutrients reaching him or her and can also affect the development of their brain.
Babies of pregnant women who smoke also face a greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and being born before 37 weeks, plus an increased risk of cot death and greater susceptibility to infections such as inflammation of the middle ear.
What effect does smoking during pregnancy have on the mother?
Pregnant smokers are more likely to suffer morning sickness and develop complications during their pregnancies – including ectopic pregnancies (where a fertilised egg implants outside the womb). They are also more at risk of a condition called placental abruption – where the placenta detaches and women suffer massive blood loss.
They are also at risk of developing lung cancer.
The benefits of quitting smoking for the baby
The good news is that it’s never too late to feel the benefits of giving up smoking – however late a stage your pregnancy is at now.
Because the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces your baby’s oxygen supply, every time you take a puff it makes your baby’s tiny heart have to beat harder. So once you stop smoking you and your baby will feel the difference straightaway.
Where can I go for advice on quitting smoking whilst pregnant?
If you’re pregnant and would like help giving up smoking, discuss it with your GP or midwife, or call the smoking in pregnancy helpline 0800 169 169.