The Smoky Truth

By Dr Linda Abujaber,

Integrative and Holistic Paediatrician

The 400 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke have harmful effects on both mama and her developing baby – whether she’s of the 8 per cent of pregnant women in Jordan who smoking cigarettes, the 7 percent that smokes argeeleh or the 83% that’s exposed secondhand smoke, which is just as harmful.

Exposure to cigarette smoke during pregnancy

 
An increased chance of miscarriage

An increased risk of stillbirth

Poor growth of the baby in the womb

 
Preterm delivery An increased chance of certain type of birth defects like cleft lip, intestinal malformations, heart defects, kidney problems and problems with the development of the limbs and fingers

Effects of exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy last long after the baby is born. Tobacco smoke (first or secondhand) can cause:

Irritability and increased crying in babies Decrease in the size of certain parts of the brain

Colic

Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (2-4 times more)

Increased incidence of asthma

Eczema

Infections of the respiratory tract like ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia

Short stature

Behaviour problems

Short attention span and Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Poor school performance

Childhood obesity


Increased risk of Type 2 diabetes (2-4 times more common) in a young adult born to a mom who smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day while pregnant

Increased risk of neurologic problems like tics as well as Schizophrenia

  Decreased sperm count in adulthood

Earlier sexual maturation and decreased fertility in adult females


Sleep problems

Increased chances of smoking later in life, even if there was no more exposure to tobacco after the baby was born.

Effects of tobacco smoke on breastfeeding

Mamas who are exposed to first or secondhand tobacco smoke:

 
Make less breastmilk

 
Have less fat in the milk they do makeCannot breastfeed as long as non-smokers

Have babies who sleep less than those not exposed

Effects of second hand smoke on babies and children

 
Increased infections of the airways, especially ear infections and pneumonia

Increased incidence of asthma, especially if there is a family history, as well as worsening of asthma in a child who already has it Increased coughs, phlegm and wheezing in children exposed to cigarette smoke

Hardening of the arteries

Dental cavities in the first teeth

Possibly an increase in childhood cancers like leukaemia and lymphoma and brain tumours

Quitting smoking is one of the greatest gifts you can give your baby. Not only are you protecting him or her from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke both now and in the future, you are also decreasing the chance that your baby will become a smoker one day.   

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