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How Smoking can Affect an Unborn Baby?

How Smoking can Affect an Unborn Baby?

by: Dr. Sorabh Goel
Consultant - Neonatology-Paras Bliss, Panchkula

Smoking is increasing in India especially among women. Changing lifestyle and westernization is the big reason for increasing smoking in females. India is the third largest producer of tobacco and the second largest consumer of tobacco products and 3rd largest in tobacco smoking worldwide, the study said.  India is home to the second largest number of female smokers coming next only to USA. Female smokers are at more risk of ill effects of smoking. It also increases all kinds of cancers in female. It further poses more danger if smoker is pregnant female. It is harmful for both mother and the unborn baby and harmful effects are also carried forward in later life of the child after birth.

Effects of Smoking on Mothers:

  • Cancers: Smoking is associated with various types of cancers like lung cancers reported in pregnant women.
  • Pregnancy related complications: Cigarette smoking increases various pregnancy related complications like ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion/pregnancy loss, preterm delivery and placenta previa (premature separation of placenta)

Effect of Smoking on unborn baby in Uterus:

  • Growth restriction: Chances of low birth weight baby is 1.5 to 3.5 times higher in smoking mothers. This risk increases with increasing cigarette consumption.
  • Congenital malformation: Smoking exposes the fetus to >2500 harmful chemicals which may increase the risk of congenital abnormalities like cleft lip/palate, gastroschisis, anal atresia, heart defects, digital anomalies, kidney abnormalities. Probability of congenital defects is higher if smoking is in first three months of pregnancy.

Effects of Smoking on baby after birth

  • In neonatal period babies of mother’s who smoke, have higher incidence of irritability and hyper tonicity. They need more handling as compared to babies of non-smoker mothers.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Increased risk of respiratory infections, asthma, allergy, ear infections, child hood obesity and decreased school performance.
  • Poor attention span and emotion and impulse control children of smoker mother.
  • Earlier reproductive maturation and reduced fertility.
  • Increased behavioural problems in babies of smoker mothers during pregnancy. They have increased risk of chronic tic disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Children have more disturbed sleep and sleep related problems.
  • Increased chanced of children also being tobacco users later in life.

All females shall tell their obstetrician regarding the habit of tobacco consumption or smoking so that doctor can help you in quitting smoking for you and your child’s health. It’s always better to quit smoking before the conception, as negative effects are more and serious during 1st 3 months after conception.

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