FAMILY MEDICAL CARE: DANGERS OF SMOKING DURING PREGNANCY

The major medical journals are continually publishing further evidence suggesting an increasingly widening range of possible serious side-effects to both mother and baby as a result of smoking. Here are just a few of the well-recognized dangers:

Miscarriage. There is a greatly increased risk of miscarriage. This is probably due to inadequate amounts of oxygen being available to the developing infant due to carboxyhaemoglobin formation at the lungs. Carbon monoxide competes successfully with oxygen, and oxyge­nation of the blood is prevented. So, the baby virtually suffocates, dies and is expelled.

Premature Births. This means the mother comes into labour earlier than would be expected. In many cases this still produces a normal baby in due course. But there are increased risks. Babies are meant to remain in the womb for nine months. Variation from normal inevitably increases risks.

Underweight Babies. Premature births usually mean babies weighing less than normal. This means they have decided disadvantages from the start. They commence life in a retarded physical state. They are less equipped to cope with the rigors of living in the world. They are more prone to adverse risks, and the mortality rate rises.

Increased Peri-natal Deaths. The death rate of babies of smoking mothers soon after birth is greater than it is for mothers who do not smoke. This ought to be given serious consideration.

Mental Retardation. Recent evidence on the long-term effect of babies from smoking mothers indicates that years later, these children compare adversely with the children of mothers who did not smoke. Mental acumen and ability are less. In some instances the difference was not major. But in this increasingly competitive world, when the emphasis is on mental acumen and educational achievement, this may play a greater part in the long-term achievements of the growing child.

Infections. Smoking mothers tend to continue to smoke after the baby is born. Once more, the deleterious effect on the baby, who is forced to become a "passive smoker," is very real. Not only does he suffer the same risks as a smoker, but there is a definite increase in the rate of respiratory tract infections that he will acquire during his childhood as compared to children of non-smoking mothers. This could predispose him to the many ailments that continual respiratory disease imparts, such as bronchitis, asthma, etc.

It has been fairly well documented that ten cigarettes smoked by a person in an enclosed room   is   the   equivalent of a "passive" non-smoker situated in the same room actually smoking one cigarette.

A baby's respiratory system is simply not geared to the intake of cigarette smoke, filled with the dangerous toxins that have already been enumerated.

It is vital that mothers do not smoke. If they do smoke, they should get in touch with some system that assists in reducing or completely stopping the habit. Several excellent plans are available in most countries of the world.

One very successful system is known as the 5-Day Plan. All capital cities and many rural towns have contact numbers for further details. 5-Day Plans are often run at certain major hospitals as non-profit community efforts. They have chalked up remarkably successful records in the several years they have been in operation on a world-wide basis.

 

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GENERAL HEALTH