Smoking And Birth Defects

Smoking Negatively Affects Unborn Babies

Smoking is an addiction. Quitting can be very difficult. Women become more addicted to nicotine than men do. All of these statements are true and most of us know that. However, when it comes to putting the cigarettes down for the sake of their own health, many women would prefer to keep smoking. What happens when those women become pregnant? Will they put their cigarettes down for the sake of their unborn baby? Some do, many don't.

There is no shortage of information and living (or dying) proof of the negative effects of cigarette smoking on the human body. Smoking not only affects individual health, it also has a severe impact upon the offspring. Parents who smoke are not only damaging their bodies, but they are setting their children up for birth defects by smoking.

Common Birth Defects

Physical abnormalities that are present in a newborn are called birth defects. There are several that are common, in terms of being seen often in newborn babies. Cleft lip and palate, which are deformities of the top lip and the roof of the mouth; clubfoot, where one or both of the baby's feet are turned inward, almost all of the way around, and pointing downward; limb defects, including missing digits or extra digits (fingers and toes), odd lengths to the limbs; congenital heart defects, such as a "hole in the heart"; Down syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, which is a chromosomal problem leading to mental retardation and developmental disabilities; gastroschisis, where the abdomen is open and the baby's intestines appear outside of the body; imperforate anus, a condition where there is no opening for the waste of the intestines to be expelled from the baby's body.

The Damage Is Done Long Before Conception

Although the primary cause of all kinds of birth defects is the mother's smoking, it is important to know that if the father is a smoker he is equally responsible for the birth defects. The sperm of a man is affected by smoking which means harm can come to his baby long before he even meets his future partner. Carbon monoxide and nicotine, when released into the body, interfere with the amount of oxygen that gets to the baby in the womb. Cells that are oxygen deprived do not grow or multiply correctly and the result is birth defects.

Stop Smoking-Spare The Baby

There are numerous studies and collected research to support the fact that women who smoke are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have a babies with cleft lips and palates. These babies have difficulty feeding, have frequent ear infections and loss of hearing, as well as speech and dental problems. All of this happens by the seventh week of pregnancy.

If women can be helped to quit smoking before they get pregnant, the incidence of birth defects will decline and more babies will be given a better chance for a healthy life.

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