Smoking and Second-hand Smoke In Pregnancy and Postpartum

Second-hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke, (SHS) is the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker plus the smoke from the end of a burning cigarette, pipe or cigar. Second-hand smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals including nicotine, carbon monoxide, benzene, ammonia, arsenic, cadmium, lead, formaldehyde, dioxins and furans. More than 50 of these substances can cause cancer. Second-hand smoke contains more than twice the averal of these chemicals pass through the placenta into the baby’s blood. Because children breathe faster than adults, they inhale more air and harmful chemicals relative to their body weight.

There is no safe level of second-hand smoke.

There is no way of keeping smoke contained to one room in a house without the room having its own ventilation system.  Electronic air filters and air “purifiers” may remove some smoke particles from the air, but not from those settled on food, furnishings, skin and other surfaces. This “third-hand” smoke is the residual tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette is extinguished. Many of these highly dangerous chemicals are in invisible gas form.

How Smoke Affects Babies

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of low birth weight in babies.

When a pregnant woman smokes or breathes in second-hand smoke:

·         Her placenta does not work as well as it should

·         Her baby gets less food and oxygen

·         Her baby does not grow as well as it should

·         Her baby gets nicotine

·         Her baby may be born underweight increasing the risk for infections, feeding difficulties and fussiness

·         Her baby may be born early and more susceptible to a number of serious complications, such as developmental delay, hyperactivity, chronic and recurrent respiratory disease, bowel disorders, and life-threatening infections

·         Smoking during pregnancy more than doubles the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

How Smoke Affects Children

·         In young children, SHS exposure can result in more colds, throat and middle ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and allergies

·         Children are more likely to be smokers themselves when they grow up

Other Health Effects

·         Brief exposure to SHS can produce eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, coughing and wheezing

·         SHS can decrease lung function and seriously intensify symptoms in people with allergies and asthma

·         Long-term exposure has been linked to heart disease, stroke and cancer

·         Exposure during pregnancy can slow the growth and development of the unborn baby, resulting in lower birth weight and a greater chance of complications (such as miscarriage) during pregnancy and delivery

If You Are Thinking About Quitting, Remember:

·         Smoking is far more harmful for both you and your baby than the stress of trying to quit.

·         Babies of women who quit smoking early in pregnancy do as well as babies of non-smoking mothers.

·         It is easier for pregnant women who smoke to quit if those around them do not smoke.

·         People who stop smoking have more money to spend on themselves and their families.

What You Can Do

·         If you smoke, try to quit or cut down your smoking now.  It will help you and your baby.  Call:
- the Motherisk Alcohol and Substance Use Helpline 1-877-FAS-INFO