Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy

The ill effects of smoking in general apply equally to pregnant mothers. In addition there are several health problems that occur due to smoking among pregnant women. Numerous studies have shown that smoking during pregnancy is associated with abortion, miscarriage and many other health threats to the growing fetus. Passive smoking (i.e. smoking by father) is also equally dangerous to the fetus and pregnancy, as that of active smoking by the mother. Women (mothers) should not smoke before, during and after pregnancy and fathers should not smoke during and after pregnancy.

Effects of smoking on ongoing pregnancy:

Smoking during pregnancy can lead to number of health problems to the mother as well as the growing fetus. These include:

  • Placental problems such as placenta previa, placental abruption and other placental problems. Smoking increase the risk of placental problem two fold in compare to non smoking mothers.
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Premature rupture of membrane.
  • IUGR (intra uterine growth retardation)
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension.

Placental problems:

In placenta previa, the placenta is implanted in the cervix instead of the fundus or body of the uterus and normal vaginal delivery is not possible and requires caesarean section delivery.

Placental abruption is premature/early separation of placenta from its attachment (uterus or cervix in case of placenta previa) which leads to excess blood loss and create problem for mother and baby. Placental abruption is more frequent among smokers and in placenta previa. The risk of fetal death is high. Placental abruption needs prompt and adequate treatment.

Ectopic pregnancy:

Ectopic pregnancy means implantation of fertilized ovum or fetus outside uterus. Ectopic pregnancy may occur in Fallopian tube (most common site of ectopic pregnancy), abdomen, ovary etc. If not diagnosed early and treated promptly, ectopic pregnancy can be fatal. In Fallopian tube the fetus may become larger than tube and it burst and may lead to maternal death.

Premature rupture of membrane:

If membrane of amniotic sac rupture before the fetus is well developed it is called premature rupture of membrane. It needs prompt intervention and delivery of fetus, even if it is not matured.

Intra uterine growth retardation:

Smoking during pregnancy by the mother may cause developmental problem of fetus known as intra uterine growth retardation. In IUGR fetus is smaller than normal and birth weight of baby is low.

Pregnancy induced hypertension:

There are some evidence (although not conclusive) that smoking during pregnancy may induce hypertension.

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