You probably already know that smoking is not good for your health. You may have also heard about secondhand smoke, which refers to the breathing in someone else’s smoke.
Pregnant women are constantly reminded to avoid smoking cigarettes, but can secondhand smoke cause problems for an unborn baby as well?
Read more to find out the effects of secondhand smoke on unborn babies.
Effects of secondhand smoke on unborn babies
Many studies have demonstrated that if a woman smokes during pregnancy, or if she is exposed to secondhand smoke, the baby may be born prematurely (too early), or be smaller than normal.
Even before the baby is born, smoke exposure can cause:
- Stillbirths (baby dies in the womb before being born)
- Placenta previa (the placenta covering all or some of the cervix, causing bleeding and preterm labor).
- Placental abruption (the placenta detaches from the uterus causing bleeding in the mother, and for the baby anything from increased heart rate to stillbirth)
After the baby is born, if the mother was exposed to cigarette smoke during pregnancy, the baby is at risk of developing:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or crib death, cot death)
- Learning problems
- Respiratory disorders
- Heart problems when the child becomes an adult
How to Protect Pregnant Women from Secondhand Smoke
Because secondhand smoke is so dangerous, everyone should be protected from it. Secondhand smoke causes harm during any stage of life and is associated with death from lung cancer and heart disease.
Pregnant woman seeking to protect themselves and their unborn baby from secondhand smoke can follow these tips:
- Do not allow smoking inside your home or car
- Do not allow smoking near you, your children, or pets
- E-cigarette vapors also contain harmful chemicals. Do not let anyone use these in your home, car, near you, near your child, or near your pet.
- If you have other children ask anyone who cares for them to follow these recommendations and explain to them why.
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