We all know the harmful effects of smoking and drinking during pregnancy. The alcohol and nicotine in your system can cause complications and this is why you should not smoke or drink even while you are trying to conceive. But did you know that passive smoking can be just as dangerous? Do you live with someone (your husband, your brother or anyone) who smoke on a daily basis?
First-hand smoking is when a person actively smokes, second-hand smoking is when a person is in the vicinity of someone who is smoking and third-hand smoking is when a person is exposed to the residue left behind on the furniture, rugs or walls. Beware because second and third-hand smoking can be just as damaging as active smoking. Here are 7 reasons why:
Studies have shown that a pregnant woman who stays with a husband who smokes 20 cigarettes or more are twice as likely to have a miscarriage as those who stay with non-smoking husbands. The second-hand smoke is not necessarily from the husband either – it could be from friends or family as well.
2. Birth Defects
With second-hand smoking, pregnant women are inhaling the toxic fumes released by the smoker. This smoke can cause birth defects in babies. The defects include eye defects, clubfoot, cleft lips, or shortened limbs.
3. Compromised Development
Active and passive smoking can affect a child’s cognitive and psychological development. A study done shows that children with moms who were non-smokers performed far better at tests on language and speech skills, behaviour and intelligence than those with moms that smoked either actively or passively. The children of passive smokers fared better than those of active smokers.
4. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Passive smoking can result in a sudden, unexpected death of an infant, known as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The nicotine in smoke can affect a baby’s respiratory system and their brain and neural development. It can even affect the immune system of a fetus, making it more vulnerable to infections.
5. Risk of Tobacco Abuse
Smoking during pregnancy, actively or passively, will cause the fetus to be exposed to nicotine. This substance is quite addictive in nature. Thus, the child can get hooked on cigarettes from a very young age.
6. Low Birth Weight
During pregnancy, your baby gets all their energy and nutrients from the amniotic fluid. Even their oxygen supply comes from this fluid. So, naturally, what you inhale is going to restrict your baby’s growth and development. In fact, studies show that when a mother smokes actively or passively, they are at a higher risk of having a low birth weight baby.
7. Premature Delivery
Women who smoked passively were at a higher risk of having a premature delivery than those who didn’t smoke at all. They have higher chances of premature water breaking, hypertension, premature rupture of membrane and anaemia.
If your partner or anyone else in the house smokes regularly, try to talk them out of it – showing them this article might help. There is no such thing as a safe level of smoking. So, at least avoid smoking in and around the house. If there is a stubborn smoker in the house, make sure to get them to follow these guidelines:
1. Make your house a smoke-free zone.
2. When exposed to smoking, make sure to wash your hands and face before touching the baby.
3. Wear a coat when smoking outdoors and remove this coat before entering the house.