Quitting Smoking While Pregnant Decreases Risk Of Babies With Low Birth Weight

The less a woman smokes during her pregnancy, the better it is for her child. The nicotine, along with other poisons inhaled during smoking, travels through the bloodstream and reaches the child to cause harm, such as low birth rates. The consequences can be as severe as miscarriage, stillbirth, or other critical congenital disabilities.

The relationship between smoking and low birth weight in babies has been established long ago. But the study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal is one of the first to distinctly indicate that when women quit smoking during any trimester of pregnancy, including the third, they have health benefits for a developing fetus.

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According to Pam Xaverius, an assistant professor at St. Louis University epidemiologist, it’s never too late to quit smoking during pregnancy. So, a pregnant woman shouldn’t feel that, since she has been smoking throughout, it's not going to do any good to her or the baby if she quits in a later stage of pregnancy.

Unlike other studies, Xaverius, director of the school’s maternal and child health program, discarded data of premature birth and examined more than 183,000 Missourians who gave birth from 2010 to 2012. Nicotine present in tobacco compresses blood vessels, and in turn, restricts the flow of required nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and the placenta. But, once the person stops smoking, that flow is restored.

She says that the findings are specifically relevant to Missourians, which is considered as the state with the highest rate of smokers during pregnancy. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, at least 15 of the 100 pregnant women smoked in Missouri in 2016. This an alarming rate and it is double the national average. Maternal mortality rate and the infant mortality rate is also the highest in this state and higher than the US’s average infant mortality rate.

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Xaverius feels that low taxes on tobacco may be a reason why more women are into smoking in Missouri. She said, “Where does Missouri fall in tobacco taxes? Dead bottom. I believe that translates into higher smoking rates. If we want to have a real impact collectively as a community, we need to decide that it’s something important.”

Women who have never smoked have better chances of giving birth to healthier babies than women who smoke during conceiving. Furthermore, more than half of the women do not realize about their pregnancy until a few months into it, thus they continue smoking during pregnancy. So, while some continue smoking as they feel that the damage is already done, others continue without realizing that they are pregnant.

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