Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy: How Smoking Affects You and Your Baby?

According to WHO, cigarette smoking causes about 7-8 million deaths each year around the world, including over 7 million of deaths are the result of direct cigarette smoking while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

General Health Risks of Smoking

The leading causes of death, such as cerebrovascular diseases, ischemic cardiovascular diseases, lower respiratory tract infections, tuberculosis and lung cancer, are all related to smoking.

Compared with non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, lung disease, lung cancer. For example:

Additional Risks for Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking is even more harmful to pregnant women. Unfortunately, statistics show that smoking during pregnancy is becoming more and more common. In 2016, over 7.2% of all expectant mothers smoked during pregnancy, which continues to grow.

For pregnant women, smoking not only harms themselves and their families, but also affects their children, resulting in premature birth, fetal abnormalities, and abnormal airway function.

Since fetal airway function develops and increases with the growth of fetal lung, it reaches the maximum level in adulthood and gradually decreases after adulthood. The basis of airway function is established early in fetal life, which means that early airway dysfunction can long-term affect the fetal lung function, whether at the maximum level in adulthood or after adulthood, making it worse than normal lung function level, and more prone to diseases such as COPD and asthma.


Health Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy to Fetus

In addition to the airway function abovementioned, smoking during pregnancy is associated with more risks, such as:

1. Lead to Fetal Malnutrition

The main component of cigarettes is "nicotine", which passes through the lungs and enters the bloodstream. The blood of pregnant women will be transmitted to the fetus through the umbilical cord to provide nutrition and blood oxygen for the fetus, while the blood containing nicotine will narrow the blood vessels and slow down the flow of blood.

Once the blood input into the uterus is reduced, it means that the "absorbable nutrition source" of the fetus is reduced, and the fetus will have insufficient nutrition, which will make the fetus "stunted".

Furthermore, if an expectant mother smokes frequently or is exposed to secondhand smoke, the cord blood will contain carcinogens, which means that the blood containing carcinogens will be continuously transported to the fetus. making a great negative impact on the growth and development of the fetus.


2. Lead to Fetal Hypoxia

Smoking will produce a lot of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. These "harmful gases" will enter the blood circulation through the lungs of pregnant women and "play their respective roles".

Carbon monoxide tends to bind to hemoglobin in the blood, thus making hemoglobin lose its ability to carry oxygen;

The increase of carbon dioxide concentration in blood is often accompanied by the decrease of oxygen concentration, that is to say, the amount of blood that the fetus absorbs oxygen decreases. In such an environment, the fetus is very prone to hypoxia.

When carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide poisoning occurs in well-developed and healthy young people, it will cause hypoxia and asphyxia of the body, which can seriously damage tissue cells and cause serious harm to the cerebral cortex.

For undeveloped fetuses still in the womb, the effects of lack of oxygen are only more severe, affecting the physical development of the fetus, especially the intellectual development.

3. Lead to Slow Mental Development of the Fetus

Research shows that the lack of oxygen in the fetus caused by smoking and the harmful substances in cigarettes directly affect the development of the fetus's brain.

If the expectant mother smokes more than 20 cigarettes a day during pregnancy, the intelligence level of the fetus after birth will be significantly lower than that of his/her peers, and even lead to facial or oral malformation of the fetus.

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