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Even Second-Hand Smoke May Cause Low Birth Weight in Babies


Are you pregnant, or do you know someone who is? While it may seem obvious to refrain from smoking while you’re pregnant, do you really know just how harmful cigarette smoke can be for your baby? Well, a recent study has revealed a number of complications that can result from smoking during pregnancy, or even being exposed to second-hand smoke if you’re with child. Let’s take a look at the findings of this recent study . . .

Are you pregnant, or do you know someone who is? Even if you’ve never been pregnant, you most likely realize that there are a lot of things you need to be aware of to ensure that you are healthy and have a healthy newborn. Eating the right kinds of foods, eating enough food (for two, or three, or more – depending on your situation!), getting enough rest and a little bit of exercise, and taking your vitamins are all important factors to consider if you’re pregnant.

And while it may seem obvious to refrain from smoking while you’re pregnant, do you really know just how harmful cigarette smoke can be for your baby? Well, a recent study has revealed a number of complications that can result from smoking during pregnancy, or even being exposed to second-hand smoke if you’re with child.

Let’s take a look at the findings of this recent study . . .

Smoking and Low Birth Weight Connection
According to a recent report from Medical News Today, studies from the latest Medical Journal of Australia show that teenage mothers who smoked during pregnancy are likely to have babies that suffer from low birth weight (LBW).

Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan and Denise Chan from the University of New South Wales did a study on the association between smoking teenagers and their babys’ birth weight.  It was determined that smoking increased the risk of LBW. 

There are more than 2,500 chemicals in cigarette smoke.  It is not known which chemicals are harmful to a developing baby, but it has been noted that nicotine and carbon monoxide can cause serious damage to a developing baby.

Other Complications
Aside from the threat of LBW, smoking can cause many types of pregnancy complications.  It nearly doubles a woman’s risk of developing placental problems, which are:

  • Placenta previa – This is a low-lying placenta that covers part or all of the opening of the uterus.
  • Placenta abruption – This is when the placenta peels away, partially or almost completely from the uterine wall before delivery. 

A mother and her baby will be in danger of heavy bleeding during delivery with either of these complications.  However, a cesarean delivery can help to prevent death.

Smoking can cause other problems in babies or young children.  In a 2003 study, babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy actually experienced withdrawal-like symptoms such as being jittery and difficult to soothe.
 
Sadly, babies are three times as likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as babies of non-smokers.

Smoking during pregnancy also increases the chances of premature rupture of the membranes (PROM).  This is when the sac that holds the baby inside the uterus breaks before the baby’s due date.  If it breaks, normal labor pains will start within hours.  If the rupture happens before 37 weeks, a baby will be considered premature. 

What about second-hand smoke?
Second-hand smoke exposure could reduce growth in a baby and he/she is more likely to be born with low birth weight.  Pregnant women should try to stay away from others who are smoking.

Low birth weight will affect a baby’s overall health.  It can also affect a child’s development and sets the stage for chronic disease as he or she grows older. 

Is it too late for your baby?
The study found that if a mother stopped smoking before her baby was 20 weeks’ of gestation, her baby was likely to be born with birth weights similar to babies born to non-smokers. 

Not only can quitting smoking have a significant impact on the health of a baby, but reducing cigarettes can also play an important part in LBW.

"The quitting rate of only one in 15 among teenage mothers during pregnancy indicates how difficult smoking cessation remains for pregnant women,” said Sullivan and Chan.   Therefore, it is important to know that even if you can reduce your cigarettes a certain amount each day, this will help in reducing the risk for a LBW baby.

"The important clinical and public health message from our study is that quitting smoking before the second half of pregnancy has a positive impact on birth weight."



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