New Risks of Smoking during Pregnancy

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Faint Sanity

You know smoking is bad for you and your baby during pregnancy. It’s printed there, right on the cigarette pack. You don’t need to be told that it’s dangerous. What you may not know, however, is that according to some recent research, there are even more risks of birth defects due to smoking during pregnancy.

The most recent round of studies was done at the University College London. In that study, women who smoked during pregnancy had higher rates of gastroschisis. Gastroschisis is a condition in which portions of the stomach or of the intestines will actually poke through the skin. In addition, there were higher rates of incidence of cleft palate or cleft lip among children born to smoking moms.

This research looked at half a century worth of research – a total of 172 published papers – to identify these specific types of birth defect risks.

You might also not realize it, but a  large number of women who already smoke before they get pregnant don’t actually quit during pregnancy. In the UK, for example, just under half of all women under the age of 20 – those that are at the highest risk of having a baby with birth defects to begin with – don’t quit smoking during pregnancy.

It’s important to get the word out. If you know a pregnant woman who’s smoking, talk to her. The research is overwhelming. She’s putting not only herself at risk, but her baby as well.

The other thing to remember is this: it’s never too late to quit. Even quitting smoking into the second trimester will reduce some (not all, of course) of the risk of your baby being born with birth defects. If you’re pregnant and smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. There are many different options available to you today, and there’s no reason to keep putting yourself or your baby at risk.

So, any advice for the other readers out there? How do you go about talking to someone about quitting smoking, or if you have quit, what worked for you?

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