How Smoking Affects Your Unborn Child
Credit: Durham University
The reasons to quit smoking could fill a book. If you’re planning to have a baby or are already pregnant, you have one more very important reason to quit smoking—the health of your unborn child. Consider these facts.
Smoking and Birth Weight
When you smoke, your unborn baby smokes, too. On average, babies of women who smoke weigh less at birth than babies of nonsmokers. And if you smoke a lot during pregnancy—more than a pack a day—the baby’s birth weight is likely to be even lower. This is not surprising, since the nicotine in cigarettes causes the baby’s blood to be starved of the oxygen needed for healthy growth. Although the baby quickly gains back the lost weight, by age 7 a child of a mother who smoked during pregnancy is still more likely than other children to be shorter in height, slower at reading and lower in “social adjustment” than children of nonsmoking mothers.
Smoking and Infant Mortality
Statistics show that infant mortality—the death of the baby either at birth or through a miscarriage—is 50 percent higher when the mother smokes. That means nonsmokers experience half as many infant mortalities. Children of smokers are also 2½ times more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome, or crib death. The good news is that if you stop smoking by the fourth month of pregnancy, you can significantly reduce these dangers.
Smoking and Your Health
Parenting is a demanding job. You need to be in peak condition. And you want to be there for your children. People who smoke have higher rates of illness and more serious health problems than nonsmokers. Lung cancer alone kills 30,000 women a year. Stop smoking now, so you’ll be able to take care of your children when they need you.
Smoking and Your Family’s Health
It’s now known that passive smoking—the smoke inhaled by nonsmokers when a smoker is in the room—is unhealthy. This is especially true for children who are particularly sensitive to the problems caused by passive smoking.
The Benefits of Quitting
You can see that your unborn child will benefit from your quitting. This goes for fathers as well as mothers. And the benefits start right away. With time, you—and your children—will be just as healthy as nonsmoking families.
Quitting smoking is not easy, but with help, you can do it. Enroll in a stop-smoking program now. Make it a family project.
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