Dec 10, 2013

Women and Smoking: Bad for Moms, Worse for Babies

Women Will Switch for the Health of their Unborn Child

If her own health isn’t enough reason to give up smoking, the health of her unborn child is often the impetus for some women to quit or switch to e-cigarettes, the healthier alternative.

New research on the dangers of smoking to young women and their unborn babies can send chills down any woman’s spine. We now have several more compelling reasons to help women realize how important it is to quit smoking or switch to e-cigarettes – ideally e-cigarettes with no nicotine.

Quitting smoking at any point during pregnancy reduces the
chance of complications. Of course, the sooner, the better!

Smoking While on the Pill 

We’ve known for a while that smoking can be dangerous for young women who are taking oral contraceptives. Women who smoke while on the pill can potentially develop deadly blood clots and even can suffer a stroke or heart disease.

Just this month, a 23-year-old Israeli woman collapsed and died; doctors believe it was because she was smoking while on the pill. There were no warning signs and she had no preexisting conditions that could have explained or contributed to her sudden death.

Minnesota’s own Mayo Clinic warns: “Smoking cigarettes during the use of oral contraceptives has been found to greatly increase the chances of these serious side effects,” namely blot clots, stroke and serious cardiovascular side effects. They strongly advise young women to not smoke while on the pill. 

Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy increases the baby’s heart rate, reduces her oxygen and can have drastic effect on the baby’s lungs and birth weight. Smoking increases the chance of a miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

There’s ample evidence that smoking during pregnancy can result in life-long complications such as asthma, ear infections and even ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD affects one in 20 children worldwide and the learning and social problems that stem from the neurodevelopment disorder can last a lifetime.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics tracked 13,000 children with ADHD and found their mothers were more likely to be younger, had smoked during their pregnancies and had complications in pregnancy and birth. Other maternal factors played a role, but the one factor that consistently came up as a significant risk was smoking during pregnancy.

Smoking during pregnancy can also cause severe DNA damage to the placenta according to a new study conducted by Otago University in New Zealand. This study looked at 236 placenta samples donated by women after birth, including 150 from non-smokers and the remainder from women who smoked at some point or throughout her pregnancy.

DNA damage was greatly increased in smokers' placental cells, and the more cigarettes a woman smoked, the greater the DNA damage. Dr. Tania Slatter, who authored the study, says there’s a clear link between higher rates of double-strand DNA breaks and lower birth weights and earlier deliveries. The study also found the smokers' placentas had compromised DNA repair mechanisms and reduced expression of at least three proteins that are key to fetal nourishment and growth.

However, the study also found that the level of DNA damage in the placentas of the women who quit while pregnant was similar to that of non-smokers. That’s clearly good news for pregnant smokers, because they still have a chance to reduce complications and improve the chances of a healthy outcome for her child.

And that’s what any mother would want.

No comments:

Post a Comment