So why do women still smoke? Smoking at some point during pregnancy varies widely, from 10% in Canada to 23% in the U.S. and 30% in Spain, according to the March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card. Those are huge numbers, which may reflect how hard it is to quit. And since smoking nearly doubles a woman’s risk of having a premature baby, we need everyone’s efforts to help women quit.
Not only is smoking harmful to Mom, it’s also harmful to your baby during pregnancy. When you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is exposed to dangerous chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. These chemicals can lessen the amount of oxygen that your baby gets and oxygen is very important for helping your baby grow healthy. Smoking can also damage your baby’s lungs.
Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to be born prematurely, with birth defects such as cleft lip or palate, and at low birthweight. Babies born prematurely and at low birthweight are at risk of other serious health problems, including lifelong disabilities (such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and learning problems), and in some cases, death.
Secondhand and thirdhand smoke are proven to be bad for babies’ health. All the more reason for both Moms and Dads to quit. With counseling and social support, smoking cessation programs have yielded a significant reduction in preterm birth.
Want help quitting? Try http://smokefree.gov/.