Tuesday, February 18, 2014

So How Exactly Does Tobacco Smoke Affect A Fetus

How Does Cigarette Smoke Affect a Fetus?


Cigarette Smoke Exposes a Fetus to Toxic Substances

1. When a pregnant woman smokes, she risks miscarriage and negatively affects her unborn child's lifelong health. Expectant mothers should avoid smoking cigarettes and secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke exposes the fetus to 1,000 chemical compounds and carcinogens, including carbon monoxide, lead, nicotine and hydrogen cyanide. Carbon monoxide and nicotine alone cause significant potential damage to a fetus. Carbon monoxide exposure decreases the flow of oxygen to the fetus. The fetus and amniotic fluid retain higher levels of nicotine than the mother's body. A 1999 study linked a similarity in the number of miscarriages due to cocaine use and cigarette use. Some 34.6 percent of the smoking expectant mothers miscarried compared to 28.9 percent of the pregnant women who used cocaine.

Cigarette Smoke Contributes to Miscarriage and Premature Labor

2. Pregnant women who smoke are at high risk for early- and late-term miscarriages, stillbirths and premature labor. The miscarriages are often caused by spontaneous abortion and placental issues. Nicotine, which reduces blood flow to the uterus and placenta, may be a major factor in fetal death. The Ontario Perinatal Mortality Study from 1960 and 1961 demonstrated that smoking contributed to placenta complications and stillbirth. The expectant mothers who smoked experienced 33.4 percent more stillbirths due to placenta problems than the nonsmoking women out of the 1,000 study participants.

Cigarette smoke may lead to placenta abruption, the early separation of the placenta from the uterus, because the reduced blood flow to the uterus may cause tissue death in the area where the placenta attaches to the uterus. Preterm labor or fetal death can occur when the placenta separates from the uterus because the fetus cannot receive nutrients. Smoking also increases the risk for placenta previa, which occurs when the placenta blocks the birth canal, because the carbon monoxide exposure decreases oxygen flow to the fetus and enlarges the placenta. Placenta abruption and placenta previa are leading causes of emergency cesarean sections for premature babies.

Low Birth Weight

3. Smoking doubles an expectant mother's chance of giving birth to a low-birth-weight infant. The reason smoking reduces birth weight by 200 grams is unknown. Cigarette smoke decreases the weight and length of a newborn possibly due to the reduced uterine blood flow and oxygen available during fetal development.

Cigarette Smoke Causes Life Altering Consequences for the Child

4. Children exposed to cigarette smoke during fetal development are more likely to develop serious health problems such as childhood cancers, asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In fact, prenatal cigarette smoking leads to a higher incidence of sudden infant death syndrome, birth defects and mental retardation. Cigarette smoke exposure during fetal development may determine the lifelong health of a child.

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