If your health isn’t enough to make you quit smoking, then the health of your baby should be. Smoking during pregnancy affects you and your baby’s health before, during, and after your baby is born. The nicotine (the addictive substance in cigarettes), carbon monoxide, and numerous other poisons you inhale from a cigarette are carried through your bloodstream and go directly to your baby. Smoking while pregnant will:
- Lower the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby.
- Increase your baby’s heart rate.
- Increase the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth.
- Increase the risk that your baby is born prematurely and/or born with low birth weight.
- Increase your baby’s risk of developing respiratory (lung) problems.
- Increases risks of birth defects.
- Increases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The more cigarettes you smoke per day, the greater your baby’s chances of developing these and other health problems. There is no “safe” level of smoking while pregnant.
“Smoking cigarettes is probably the No. 1 cause of adverse outcomes for babies,” says Welch, who’s the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan. He’s seen the complications far too many times: babies born prematurely, babies born too small, babies who die before they can be born at all. In his view, pregnancies would be safer and babies would be healthier if pregnant smokers could somehow swap their habit for a serious disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
“I can control those conditions with medications,” Welch says. But when a pregnant woman smokes, he says, nothing can protect her baby from danger.
4D Ultrasound Shows What Smoking Does To Your Baby
Recent research released overwhelming images that show the effects of smoking during pregnancy.
With the help of 4D ultrasound, researchers from Durham University found that the fetuses to mothers who smoke have a higher rate of mouth movement and touching of their face, compared to the fetuses to non-smokers. The researchers suggest that this may be due to the fact that the central nervous system of fetuses, which controls movement in general, and especially facial movement, doesn’t develop in the same way and at the same time as does the central nervous system in fetuses to mothers who didn’t smoke during pregnancy.
“Our findings show that nicotine has a greater impact on the developing fetus than stress and depression,” said Dr. Nadia Risland in a press release.
The study involved 20 infants, 4 of whom were born to mothers who smoke 16 cigarettes a day, and the remaining 16 to non-smoking mothers. The researchers observed 80 4D ultrasound images taken at four different intervals between 24 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. All babies were healthy at birth, but researchers did notice differences in fetal behavior during pregnancy.
However, the researchers emphasize that this has only been a pilot study and that other studies are necessary to confirm and further explain the link between smoking, stress and depression of the mother and the development of the fetus.