Smoking during pregnancy not only affects mother’s health, but also has deadly impact on the baby. According to a new study published in the Early Human Development journal, researchers found that babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy were smaller compared to babies born to mothers who didn’t smoke.
The study focused on the differences in body composition and distribution of body mass of newborns. 1216 Caucasian mothers participated in this study. 269 (22.1%) of them smoked eight cigarettes each day. The babies were all born full term - with a gestational age of at least 37 weeks. Mothers who consumed alcohol or took drugs during pregnancy were not eligible for this study.
The results revealed that baby born to mothers who smoked weigh an average of 216 grams lighter than those who didn’t smoke during pregnancy. In addition, the amount of fat was also lower in babies born to mothers who smoked.
Babies born with low birthweight have higher risk of cerebral palsy, mental health problem, and learning disabilities. Smoking not only causes the baby to born with low birthweight, but it can adversely affect future health of the newborn. Maternal smoking increases the risk of future teen obesity, chronic illnesses and future smoking habits. Mothers should not only quit smoking, but also avoid contaminants from other smokers as passive smoking also causes birth defects and pregnancy complications.
Another recent study found the positive correlation between increase in cigaret tax and decrease in number of pregnant smokers. Policy makers can use various strategies effectively to discourage smoking habits, especially among women who smoke during and after pregnancy.