SMOKING AND YOUR BABY

Mothers’ smoking during pregnancy is well-recognized as carrying a range of serious health risks for the unborn baby including fetal mortality, low birth weight, premature birth and a range of serious birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot and heart problems.

Heart defects

Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defects, contributing to approximately 30 percent of infant deaths from birth defects annually. Tobacco exposure in the womb may be a huge contributing factor. According to study results published in the journal Pediatrics, women who smoke during the first trimester of pregnancy increase their unborn child’s risk of being born with congenital heart defects by 20 to 70 percent. The study, conducted  by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found a link between tobacco and defects that inhibit blood flow from the right side of the heart into the lungs and openings between the upper chambers of the heart.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)smoking when pregnant

SIDS, also known as cot death, is marked by the sudden death of an infant that is unexpected by medical history and remains unexplained after a thorough forensic autopsy and a detailed death scene investigation. However, studies show that infants of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are three times more likely to die of SIDS than those whose mothers were smoke-free. Furthermore, exposure to secondhand smoke doubles a baby’s risk of SIDS. According to the US Surgeon General’s Report, infants who die from SIDS tend to have higher concentrations of nicotine and conicotine (a biological marker for secondhand smoke exposure) in their body fluids than those who die from other causes. Yet another good reason to ditch the cigs. Quitting smoking is no easy task but it just has to be easier than grieving for a lost child!

Second hand smoke

A pregnant mother who does not smoke and breathes in secondhand smoke has a 23% higher chance of delivering a stillborn baby or a 13% higher chance of giving birth to a child with congenital birth defects.  This is what researchers from the University of Nottingham, England, revealed in the journal Pediatrics. As we still do not know when the effects of secondhand smoke may begin, it is important to protect women from environmental tobacco smoke not only during pregnancy, but also beforehand. Expectant fathers need to be aware of the harmful effects their smoking might have, and ultimately, in the interests of their partner and their unborn child, the best option would be to give up completely
(Men also need to know that smoking does have an impact on sperm development and hence the prospects of the resulting foetus. Please quit before you even try for a baby).

Enter third hand smoke.

Unheard of before but now thought to be the reason why babies who sleep in their parents’ bedrooms exhibit nicotine levels three times higher than those that sleep in another room – even though the parents don’t smoke in their bedroom. These figures show that they suffer from what is known as “third-hand smoke”, in other words the harmful smoke particles that impregnate their parents’ skin, clothes and hair. This third hand smoke – the invisible remains of cigarette smoke that deposits on carpeting, clothing, furniture and other surfaces – also poses a serious health hazard to babies crawling on carpets.

So what to do?
In view of all the above, the guidelines to parents are clear:

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy (mothers and fathers)
  • Never smoke or let anyone smoke near your baby
  • Never smoke or let anyone smoke in a room where your baby will sleep
  • If you smoke, do not sleep in the same room as your baby
  • Don’t hesitate to ask visitors not to smoke near your baby
  • Avoid visiting smokey places with your baby

 

Any of the above will make your baby smoke passively and increase his/her risk of health problems significantly. Baby will also be more prone to colds and airway infections and have an increased chance to develop asthma and other diseases. Quitting is the single most important thing a couple can do to give their baby a chance at better health. So how about quitting today!

Why quit smoking?

Every year millions of smokers worldwide make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking for the umpteenth time.  I wonder what percentage actually do. Smoking is both a habit and an addiction and undisputedly a serious hazard to your health.

Habit vs Addiction

Habits are affected by your environment. Things in your daily life – something you see or do – act as a cue or a trigger, and you respond by taking the habitual next action. Maybe you reach for a cigarette when you answer a phone call or pour yourself a cup of coffee?

Addictions, on the other hand, are affected by your body’s chemistry. Your brain has receptors that respond to the presence of nicotine by releasing dopamine, a chemical that produces feelings of pleasure. That’s why smoking feels good. But the feeling doesn’t last long, and your body craves more nicotine. You have entered a vicious cycle.

The passage of blood through your body

To understand how smoking will affect every organ in your body we need to look at the bigger picture showing how all of your body parts are interconnected. Let’s begin at your small intestine and follow the basic pathway of blood through your body. As your blood courses through the vessels that line your small intestine, it picks up nutrients from your most recent meal and flows to your liver. From your liver, your blood, packed with nutrients needed by all the cells of your body, travels upward to the right chambers of your heart. From here it travels to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen from the air that you breathe. Also at your lungs, your blood releases carbon dioxide (a waste product) to be exhaled. From your lungs, your blood travels to the left chambers of your heart, from where it is pumped out to the rest of your body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all of your cells.

Since every organ in your body requires oxygen and nutrients, your blood travels through every organ, unloading oxygen and nutrients to all your cells and picking up carbon dioxide and other waste products from your cells. And when it passes through your kidneys, it is cleansed of waste products by special filters. Your blood eventually comes full circle by returning to your small intestine and liver.

To give you an idea of how much ground we’re talking about, consider that:

  1. If strung together, all of the blood vessels that make up the pathway described above could circle the earth two and a half times.
  2. Over the course of one day, your blood travels about 19,000 kilometres.

The human being is such an amazing creation. Why do we go all out to self-destruct?

So how does smoking affect your health?

Smoking overworks the heart

Now let’s re-visit your heart and lungs. Remember that before your heart pumps blood to the far ends of your body, it first sends the blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen. If your lungs develop chronic disease through exposure to cigarette smoke or other environmental pollutants it experiences repeated bouts of inflammation. By trying to heal damaged areas, the lungs can develop scar tissue. Significant scar tissue makes it harder for your lung tissues to allow fresh oxygen to enter your blood, and for carbon dioxide to leave your blood.

The result is that your heart has to work harder because your body’s need for oxygenated blood and clearance of carbon dioxide remains the same, regardless of how healthy your lungs are. In order to keep up with your body’s demand for oxygen and nutrients, the right side of your heart has to pump harder, and possibly faster, to compensate for reduced efficiency in your lungs. Your heart will eventually become fatigued and won’t be able to sustain the effort needed to keep blood flowing through your system fast enough to ensure optimal delivery of oxygen.

Liver congestion and congested blood vessels

If the right side of your heart is significantly weakened from years of compensating for diseased lungs, your liver may experience signs of congestion, since your liver is constantly sending blood directly to the right chambers of your heart.  So indirectly lung disease becomes a potential cause of liver disease.

Another potential consequence of fatigue and weakness in the right side of your heart is congestion in the blood vessels in your lower extremities, since these vessels are continuously sending blood back to your heart. This is how lung or heart disease can cause problems related to circulation like varicose veins and hemorrhoids.  See all the connections? And all this just from a starting point of lungs filled with smoke. Fact is, if one of your organs isn’t doing well, in this case the lungs, it’s only a matter of time before other organs will experience declining function.

Never fear – Help is at handVice Breaker

If you’re a smoker wanting another chance at life, resolve to quit now! If you find you can’t do it alone, The Orchards Nutrition Centre is the exclusive importer and distributor in South Africa of Vice Breaker,  a 100% natural herbal supplement which has proven to be a safe and very effective quit-smoking aid. All you do is take one capsule in the morning and one capsule in the evening for a month. Most smokers find that within 4 to 5 days they are no longer craving cigarettes and after 2 weeks on the course, with their lungs now cleansed of previous smoking, they feel energised and healthier.

Find out more about Vice Breaker here.

You should find answers to all your questions regarding Vice Breaker here: Frequently Asked Questions

 

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