The risks of smoking in pregnancy:
Tobacco use and exposure during pregnancy carry serious risks for both mother and fetus. Why is it important to quit this habit as soon as possible? Here we detail it.
Tobacco contains nicotine, an addictive substance at the brain level that affects people’s self-control. Besides, tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which about 250 are harmful. Smoking during pregnancy implies an increased risk since it produces different effects on the mother and the baby.
Just breathing these substances in the air as a secondhand smoker can be harmful to your health. Therefore, pregnant women who smoke or are exposed to tobacco smoke, put their health, and that of their future child at risk.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking is the most important preventable cause of adverse effects during pregnancy in industrialized countries. There are risks of smoking in pregnancy and in this space, we are going to detail them.
Possible risks of smoking in pregnancy
What is the mechanism of tobacco during pregnancy?
Nicotine, carbon monoxide (CO), and other toxic substances that cause mutations and cancer travel through the blood and reach the placenta. This step largely prevents the nutrients and oxygen necessary for the normal development of the fetus from reaching it.
It all happens because nicotine has a vasoconstrictor effect (reduces the caliber of blood vessels). And, also, CO binds to oxygen receptors more easily (it displaces oxygen and does not allow its use). This is summarized in hypoxia (decreased fetal oxygen) and reduced nutrient supply.
Risks of smoking in pregnancy
Therefore, both active and passive smoking, by compromising the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the baby, can affect pregnancy in many ways. Among them, the following:
- Low birth weight
- Spontaneous abortion.
- Ectopic pregnancy. The fetus may be placed outside the uterus and cannot develop.
- Preterm labor or growth retardation. The baby may be born prematurely, without fully developing, causing a multitude of health problems.
- Placental abruption. The placenta can separate from the uterus, making the exchange of nutrients more difficult.
- Premature rupture of the placenta. Which would also lead to premature labor.
- Congenital malformations, due to the mutagenic activity (ability to cause mutations) of tobacco.
- Increase in hospital stay time.
- Sudden death syndrome in the newborn.
- Perinatal death. You can die at the time of your birth.
Risks of Smoking in Pregnancy: After Birth
In addition to increasing the risk during pregnancy, tobacco can affect a child’s health throughout his life. The deficit of nutrients and oxygen that reach the baby can lead to consequences such as the ones discussed below:
- Hearing problems It is quite typical that they suffer from otitis media.
- Child cancer.
- Vision disturbances.
- Asthma and respiratory infections.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Behavior problems
- Delays in development and growth.
- Difficulty feeding. Difficult breastfeeding (problems in initiation and maintenance)
- In adulthood, you can suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, or heart disease.
Stopping smoking in pregnancy is important
Unfortunately, despite the increasing evidence of the adverse effects of tobacco during pregnancy, there are a large number of women who smoke who continue to do so.
If you do not know how to quit smoking, you can access consultations from health professionals who help with the psychological management involved. This is important because the effects of smoking cessation are clear; especially during a stage as complex as pregnancy.