Smoking and pregnancy

Smoking and pregnancy

It is a well-researched fact that babies exposed to a smoking mother during pregnancy have a higher incidence of SUDI (Sudden Unexplained Death of an Infant, previously known as SIDS or Cot Death).

Smoking also causes other adverse effects including stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight and developmental problems for the baby. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including cyanide, lead, and at least 60 cancer-causing compounds. When a mum smokes during pregnancy, these toxins get into her bloodstream – her baby’s source of oxygen and nutrients. 

What happens is that the nicotine chokes off the oxygen by narrowing blood vessels throughout mum’s body, including the ones in the umbilical cord. It is a little like forcing your baby to breathe through a narrow straw. To make matters worse, the red blood cells that carry oxygen start to pick up molecules of carbon monoxide instead. Suddenly, that narrow straw doesn’t even hold as much oxygen as it should.

Studies have shown that second-hand smoke can have the same impact on a pregnant woman and her baby as actually smoking.

Once baby is born the risks remain.  Exposing babies and children continues to subject their wee bodies with these harmful toxic chemicals.  Children are especially vulnerable to second-hand smoke as their lungs are smaller and more delicate.

Among New Zealand children, second-hand smoke exposure causes more than 500 hospital admissions of children under two with chest infections; over 27,000 GP consultations for respiratory problems; 1000 cases of glue ear; 50 cases of meningococcal disease; 20,000 asthma attacks. ( )

In March 2011, New Zealand Government committed to a goal of New Zealand becoming smoke free by 2025.  Support for this initiative will see the future for our children and grandchildren one which is free from exposure to tobacco and tobacco use.

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