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Why Shouldn't I Smoke During Pregnancy?

There are a lot of good reasons to quit smoking, but isn't your baby the most compelling? Researchers agree that smoking during pregnancy can be a leading contributor to a range of health problems, both for the mother and the baby.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide, both poisonous, in the mother's bloodstream. These chemicals restrict the blood vessels and limit the amount of oxygen and nutrients traveling to the placenta, the tissue that nourishes the baby. With less oxygen and nutrients reaching the placenta, the growth of the baby is inhibited. Babies born to smoking mothers are more likely to be premature and, if carried to full term, smaller and underweight. These conditions often mean special care and longer hospital stays for babies born to smoking mothers.

Oxygen deprivation from smoking during pregnancy has been linked to ectopic, or tubal, pregnancies, miscarriages and fetal brain damage. Some studies even suggest smoking can be a contributing factor in sudden infant death syndrome.

Smoking may affect the infant's blood pressure, and lead to learning and developmental problems, such as Attention Deficit Disorder and mental retardation. Additionally, smokers' babies tend to have respiratory disorders during childhood, including asthma.

Of course, birth doesn't' remove the baby from danger. Smoking often interferes with breastfeeding, reducing milk supply. Nicotine is also passed through the breast milk to the baby, causing colic, cramping, nausea and diarrhea. Exposure to second hand smoke is also a risk. Infants can absorb even more nicotine in their respiratory systems than from breast milk, increasing their risk of breathing problems.

There are two excellent reasons to quit smoking right away, your health and your baby's health!

Maria writes for Pregnancy Due Date, a site that tries to information for expectant mothers. For more great pregnancy articles, visit our Pregnancy articles archive.

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