Why is smoking dangerous for my fetus?
When a woman smokes cigarettes during pregnancy, her fetus is exposed to many harmful chemicals. Nicotine is only one of 4,000 toxic chemicals that can pass from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, so less oxygen and fewer nutrients reach the fetus. Nicotine also damages a fetus’s brain and lungs. This damage is permanent.
Several problems are more likely to occur during pregnancy when a woman smokes. These problems may include preterm birth, which is birth that occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies that are born too early may not be fully developed. They may be smaller than babies born to nonsmokers, and they are more likely to have colic (with uncontrollable crying). These babies are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They also are more likely to develop asthma and obesity in childhood.
If you are smoking when you find out you are pregnant, you should stop.
Why should I avoid secondhand smoke during pregnancy?
Secondhand smoke—other people’s smoke that you inhale—can increase the risk of having a low-birth-weight baby by as much as 20%. Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of SIDS. These babies are more likely to have asthma attacks and ear infections. If you live or work around smokers, take steps to avoid secondhand smoke.
Are e-cigarettes safe to use during pregnancy?
Electronic cigarettes (known as “e-cigarettes”) are used by some people as a substitute for traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain harmful nicotine, plus flavoring and a propellant that may not be safe for a fetus. E-cigarettes are not safe substitutes for cigarettes and should not be used during pregnancy.
Why is drinking alcohol dangerous for my fetus?
Alcohol can interfere with the normal growth of a fetus and cause birth defects. When a woman drinks during pregnancy, her fetus can develop physical, intellectual, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can last a lifetime. The most severe disorder is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS can cause growth problems, intellectual disability, behavioral problems, and abnormal facial features.
Is there an amount of alcohol that is safe to drink during pregnancy?
FAS is most likely to occur in babies born to women who drink heavily throughout pregnancy. But alcohol-related problems can occur with lesser amounts of alcohol use. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant. If it is hard for you to stop drinking, talk with your obstetrician or other health care professional about your drinking habits. Alcoholics Anonymous offers information and local resources on quitting alcohol on its website: www.aa.org.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2017, August). Tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and pregnancy. Retrieved 19 September 2018 from https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Tobacco-Alcohol-Drugs-and-Pregnancy.