Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is harmful because tobacco smoke the mother inhales contains many toxic substances, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, tars, resins and some cancer-causing agents. When a pregnant woman inhales cigarette smoke, these chemicals pass through the placenta to the developing baby. A pregnant woman who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day (20 cigarettes) inhales tobacco smoke more than 11,000 times during an average pregnancy! Tobacco smoke inhaled by the mother affects a growing baby. Pregnant women face increased risk of pregnancy complications if they smoke cigarettes. The risk of developing placental abruption increases almost 25% in moderate smokers and 65% in heavy smokers. Placenta previa occurs 25% more often in moderate smokers and 90% more often in heavy smokers. In addition, cigarette smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, the death of the fetus or death of a baby soon after birth. This risk is directly related to the number of cigarettes a woman smokes each day. It can increase as much as 35% for a woman who smokes more than a pack of cigarettes a day.
The stop-smoking patches and gum contain many of the same substances cigarettes do. The specific effects of the Nicoderm® patch and Nicorette® gum on fetal development are unknown. If you are pregnant, researchers advise not using either of these “stop-smoking” systems because you and your baby might be exposed to the harmful substances you are trying to avoid.
Some research indicates a nonsmoker and her unborn baby are exposed to carboxyhemoglobin and nicotine through secondary smoke. These substances may harm you and your baby. Ask your partner to stop smoking while you are pregnant. You might suggest he quit smoking altogether. At the very least, ask him not to smoke around you or in the home. It’s also a good idea to avoid smoky environments such as bars.
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