Smoking during pregnancy: what risks for the child?
If the cigarette poses a health risk before pregnancy, tobacco is even more harmful to the child when it is in the womb. But even today the problem of smoking during pregnancy is taboo. The smokers are judged and stigmatized, to the point of not daring to talk about it and ask for help if they fail to stop on their own. Let’s start by clarifying the issue.
But before proceeding, let’s take a look at the many benefits that saying goodbye to cigarettes can give us, as the video below suggests.
1) I am pregnant and cannot quit smoking. Am I the only one in this situation?
Absolutely not! According to statistics, 70% of women who smoke stop smoking during pregnancy. This means that 30% cannot give up smoking while the baby develops in the womb. After giving birth, more than half of non-breastfeeding women resume smoking, while 10% of breastfeeding women smoke…
2) Does smoking pose a danger to my pregnancy?
- Not only does smoking have a negative impact on fertility, both female and male, but it also increases the chances of extrauterine pregnancies and spontaneous abortions . The more a woman smokes, the more the risk increases.
- For smokers, the risk of bleeding during childbirth also increases compared to non-smoking mothers.
- Another danger is the premature rupture of the membranes with consequent premature birth: 15% of premature births (and their consequences) would be due to cigarette consumption during pregnancy.
3) I am pregnant and smoker: what are the risks for my child?
- Nicotine reduces the blood flow in the placenta , which is essential for the correct growth of the fetus. And if the child is fed less it means that it develops and grows less. It is established that smoking causes developmental delays and a lower birth weight (up to 350 grams if the number of cigarettes per day is more than 20). And the smaller the child, the more fragile it will be.
- The risk of fetal death also increases , especially in the third trimester of pregnancy: it is linked to developmental delay and placental complications due to smoking. A placenta exposed to smoke is in fact a placenta that is not well oxygenated and nourished which therefore does not work properly.
- Smoking, as mentioned above, is also linked to the risk of prematurity.
- Carbon monoxide and nicotine cause a decrease in the oxygen supply that interferes with the proper functioning of the lungs and heart (which must pump more to make up for the lack of oxygen). Such problems persist after birth. Hyperactivity of the bronchi, bronchiolitis, irritative cough, allergies, repetitive otitis, pulmonary diseases … The children of mothers who are smokers or who have smoked during pregnancy develop chronic respiratory diseases more often and more quickly than other children (already within the year of life about a third of these children suffer from it. The risk of asthma is also very strong.
- The risk of cot death has tripled in the case of exposure of the child to smoking during pregnancy, and exposure to passive smoking in the first months of life doubles it.
- In addition to nicotine and carbon monoxide, by smoking the future mother inhales more than four thousand harmful substances that reach her blood from her lungs. From here, through the placenta and the umbilical cord, they reach the child who is forming. The risk of malformations increases, like the cleft lip .
- If he is regularly exposed to cigarette smoke, the child’s immune defenses are lowered. In case of infections, he will be more vulnerable.
4) And in the future?
- Some studies show that exposure to smoke in the womb would be linked to behavioral disorders, such as hyperactivity , and learning difficulties. This is because smoking affects the development of the brain and the nervous system.
- Children exposed to smoke during pregnancy are more likely to develop bladder and kidney cancer, as these two organs are particularly sensitive to carcinogens in the in-utero development phase. Children who breathe passive smoking in childhood have a four times higher risk of developing nose cancer.
5) I am pregnant and surrounded by people who smoke. Is passive smoking dangerous for my child?
There is little talk of the harmfulness of passive smoking , yet for the child who has to be born there is no difference between a non-smoking mother exposed to second-hand smoke and a mother who smokes: the consequences of passive smoking on the fetus are equivalent . Equally risky is the passive smoke breathed by infants and young children as well as the nicotine taken by the breastfeeding smoker because the nicotine passes into breast milk.
6) I am pregnant and want to quit smoking. What nicotine substitutes can I use?
A pregnant woman has an exemplary motivation and pregnancy can be the right time to quit smoking once and for all.
Nicotine substitutes (patches, tablets, chewing gum) are not prohibited during pregnancy, but before using them it is important to consult a doctor, who will indicate precisely how to take them (doses, times to respect…).
Instead, electronic cigarettes and drugs should be avoided because they are dangerous to the fetus.
7) What if I can’t stop alone?
Do not be discouraged and do not feel guilty: talk about it as soon as possible with your doctor, gynecologist or contact a specialized facility. Psychological support can also be of great help.
8) It is said that it is better to smoke a few cigarettes rather than quit and be nervous and irritable…
Is a mistake. Because in general it compensates itself by doing very deep shots. So in the end the values of nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood are equivalent to a packet of cigarettes, when the pregnant woman has smoked less than 10…
9) If I am pregnant and smoking, will my flocks risk becoming smokers themselves?
It’s true: the children of a woman who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to become smokers themselves. In fact already at birth in their brain there are nicotine receptors, which make them more sensitive to adolescents and adults not only to this substance, but in general to all psychoactive substances (cannabis, alcohol…).
Quitting smoking during pregnancy is the greatest gift you can give your child.