Babies born to smoking pregnant women are on average 200 grams lighter than babies born to non-smoking mothers because of the reduction of placental blood flow that results in a reduction in the nutrient level reaching the foetus. Fetal miscarriage has been found to be higher in such smoking women. Maternal smoking also induces preterm births.
Breastfeeding women who smoke have been found to have lower levels of prolactin, which is essential for the breastfeeding and thus, causes reduced breastfeed. Smoking in pregnancy seems to have an adverse on the physical growth and intellectual development of the child associated with a reduced height and intellectual attainments.
A study conducted to demonstrate the association between smoking during pregnancy and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) using prospectively collected data has shown that children of smokers had more than three times the risk of SIDS compared with children of non-smokers and the risk of SIDS increased with the number of cigarettes smoked per day during pregnancy.
Evidence shows that smoking interferes with a woman’s hormonal balance during pregnancy and has long-term consequences on the reproductive organs of her children.
- Infants born of smoking mothers suffer from serious respiratory infections than the children of non-smokers.
- Smoking during pregnancy can also increase the risk of asthma in young children due to changes in biological receptors in the baby’s immune system that are responsible for recognizing and fighting infections and bacteria.
The lesson? Pregnant women should quit smoking for a healthy baby…and for their own health as well.