Pregnancy is an exciting phase in a soon-to-be mother’s life. But it is also a delicate phase that requires a woman to be very careful about her lifestyle choices. This is because everything that an expectant mother does or comes into contact with can be potentially harmful to the fragile being inside her. We all know the ill-effects of smoking in pregnant women. However, we are often in the dark when it comes to the effects of passive smoking, or second-hand smoke, during pregnancy. So, we bring you here 6 such serious effects of passive smoking during pregnancy:
1. It Increases Risk Of Miscarriage
More often than not, pregnant women are exposed to passive smoking at their very home. Scientific studies have found that a partner’s active smoking habit led to many a miscarriage. A study that was conducted in Hong Kong found that pregnant women with husbands who smoked nearly 20 cigarettes daily were at twice the risk of a miscarriage than compared to pregnant women whose husbands did not smoke at all (1).
2. It Can Result In Premature Births
One of the conditions that most pregnant women dread is premature birth, which causes a lot of complications both for the mother and the baby. A recent study was conducted on 209 pregnant women to check if passive smoking could result in pre-term births. Around 43 of these women were exposed to second-hand smoke. The results showed that there was a high percentage of premature births among women exposed to passive smoking as compared to those women who were not exposed to second-hand smoke (2).
3. The Baby’s Birth Weight Can Be Low
Infants with low birth weight are at high risk of complications and infections as their fragile bodies are not strong enough to fight back infections (3). A comparative study was conducted in Malaysia where 209 pregnant women were exposed to passive smoke and 211 remained unexposed. The results showed that a majority of the babies exposed to second-hand smoke were born with low birth weight (4). This is due to the fact that cigarette smoke, which contains carbon monoxide and nicotine, can considerably reduce oxygen and fetal blood circulation respectively (5).
4. The Baby May Be Born With Birth Defects
Birth defects can be a serious cause of concern to new parents. Although there are many other reasons for birth defects including genetics and heredity, passive smoking too has been found to be one of the culprits. According to scientific studies, when the toxins present in second-hand smoke are inhaled, they can lead to birth defects such as cleft palate and lips, club foot, vision defects, and shortened/reduced limbs (6).
5. Baby’s Psychological Development Can Get Compromised
Not only does passive smoking affect a child’s physicality, but it can also have serious side effects on children’s psychological and mental development too. A research conducted on 91 kids in the age group of 6-9 showed that children of non-smoking mothers performed well in tests based on speech, intelligence, language, behavior, and visual abilities. Whereas children whose mothers indulged in passive or active smoking could not fare well in these tests (7).
6. Potential Risk Of Future Abuse Of Tobacco
Around 21st week of your gestation, your baby can start tasting everything that you ingest. Thus, the foundation for the baby’s taste and food preferences is laid right within the womb itself (8). The same applies to exposure to nicotine, which is present in cigarette smoke, as well. And, with nicotine being an addictive substance, the risk that your child might incline towards taking up smoking during his/her adolescent years becomes high (9).
We hope that these facts about the serious effects of passive smoking during pregnancy serve as an eye-opener to our dear expectant moms. Are you too being subjected or exposed to second-hand smoke while still being pregnant? Then it’s time to put your foot down and say no to it. Because, at the end of the day, only you are responsible for the safety of your tiny angel inside you. Good luck ladies!