Women are advised not to smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy exposes the unborn fetus to numerous health hazards. Puffing away on a cigarette can deprive the fetus of nearly twenty minutes of oxygen.
Lack of oxygen can retard the normal growth and development of the fetus. High fetal mortality rates are linked with maternal cigarette smoking.
Smoking Effects On Unborn Babies
It is a well documented fact that smoking even a single cigarette during pregnancy delivers a dangerous cocktail of chemicals (nearly 4000 different chemicals) to the unborn child. Infants born to mothers who smoked cigarettes through out their pregnancy will suffer from numerous short term and long term health effects. Pregnant women who are smokers are actually depriving their unborn child the basic right to lead a healthy life.
Low Birth Weight
Infants born to mothers who smoked regularly during pregnancy have lower birth weight than babies born to mothers who have never smoked a cigarette.
The chemicals present in cigarette smoke constrict the blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. This in turn can lead to poor fetal growth and ultimately very low birth weight. In fact, on an average, the birth weight of infants born to mothers who were chain smokers was less than 2.5 kilos.
Retarded Brain Development
Cigarette smoke can hinder normal brain development of the unborn fetus. Fetuses who were exposed to cigarette smoke are fifty percent more likely to develop some kind of mental retardation (ranging from mild to severe) than that of other fetuses. Fetuses that were exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb are more likely to grow up with poor concentration and attention deficit disorders.
Impaired Lung Function
When dangerous toxins like nicotine and carbon monoxide is transmitted to the fetus via the placenta it not only reduces the amount of oxygen that is available to the fetus but it can impede the normal growth and development of fetal lungs as well. In the long run, impaired lung development can manifest itself in the form of numerous respiratory and lung diseases in extremely young children.
Exposure to cigarette smoke in the womb can lead to higher than normal incidence of birth defects. In fact, medical research has shown that fetuses that were exposed to cigarette smoke are twice as likely to be born with appalling birth defects like cleft lip and palate. Abstaining from smoking during pregnancy can protect unborn fetuses from these terrible birth anomalies.
Fetuses that are exposed to cigarette smoke are extremely likely to be born before time. Premature infants not only have poor birth weight, but they are very likely to suffer from different kinds of life threatening infections at birth.
Sudden Infant Death
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is linked with sudden infant death. Babies who were exposed to cigarette smoke in the womb have extremely poor breathing responses during apnea or even during asphyxia. The result is that a young child will die all of a sudden without actually exhibiting any outwardly health disorder or condition.
The desire to have a healthy and happy baby should be a powerful enough motivation for any pregnant woman to give up smoking once and for all.