Smoking during pregnancy heightens the risk for a lower birth weight at delivery, we’ve known that for a long time, but astonishing studies conducted recently confirm links between smoking while pregnant and long-term problems lasting into adulthood for kids whose mothers smoked.
Two of the most damaging effects of smoking have wide-ranging outcomes for the developing fetus. Smoking constricts blood vessels, including those that are in the uterus. This cuts off the vital supply of nutrients and oxygen to the baby. In addition, carbon monoxide levels rise in the blood of moms who smoke. This gas is the same one that causes asphyxiation from leaks in car exhaust and faulty gas heaters. It acts to further cut off the oxygen supply to the developing baby. Mothers who are exposed to second hand smoke at home or in the workplace are endangering their unborn child, and should insist that they live and work in a smoke-free environment during pregnancy.
So, what are some of the results of depriving the fetus of vital nutrients and oxygen? Lower birth weight, premature birth and an elevated risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) are just a few of the problems that have been linked to mothers who smoke. Infant mortality rates in general are higher for babies who experienced the dangers of a smoking mother. The lack of adequate nutrients and oxygen causes delays and disruptions in the development of the fetus, most importantly in brain development. Recent studies show that there is a significant risk for behavioral problems in teens and young adults if their mothers smoked. There is even an elevated risk for psychotic behaviors including hallucinations and delusional thinking in pre-teens. And if this isn’t bad enough, even criminal behavior and substance abuse are more common among teens and young adults who had mothers who smoked during their pregnancy.
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