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The effect of smoking on fetal development

During 9 months of pregnancy, a human child must grow and evolve from a 2-cell embryo into a highly developed , extremely complex organism. During the growth of which, thousands of various reactions occur and any interference in this process can become fatal. Therefore, today we will consider in as much detail as possible the effect of smoking on the development of the fetus.

The effect of smoking on the development of the body

Despite the numerous “Ministry of Health warns”, about 30% of women who smoke are unable to give up their addiction, even while carrying a child. But smoking becomes not only the cause of oxygen starvation of the embryo, but also increases the risk of developing sudden child death syndrome by more than 2.5 times.

And even in those cases when, at first glance, nothing terrible happens to the baby, he will lag behind in mental and physical development from his peers, and the risk of developing colds, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular and other systems is higher in 4- Five times.

Those of pregnant women who cannot give up cigarettes, even for the sake of the health of the unborn child, prefer to believe such popular myths about smoking as: the impermeability of the placenta to nicotine and other harmful substances, and that a few cigarettes will not harm the baby. But, in fact, nicotine and other substances enter the child’s body and interfere with the normal development of the placenta.

The effect of nicotine

Nicotine is a substance that easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier and the placenta. Getting into the systemic circulation, together with the blood flow, it penetrates into the circulatory system of the fetus, causing a sharp disruption of all processes occurring at this moment.

Due to the effect of nicotine on the placental blood flow, the amount of blood flowing to the fetus decreases, as a result, it develops oxygen starvation and nutritional deficiencies, which can lead to a slowdown in fetal growth and a decrease in the vascular permeability of the placenta.  

In the liver, nicotine decomposes into other substances that are less dangerous for the human body, but cotinine (more about it) can cause an increase in the tone of the uterus, which can provoke a miscarriage or premature birth.

The mutational effect of nicotine on embryonic development has not yet been scientifically proven, but there is plenty of evidence that smoking greatly increases the risk of having a baby with congenital defects or chronic diseases.

Effects of tobacco smoke

Tobacco smoke contains about 4000 harmful compounds, many of which are highly carcinogenic . These are carbon monoxide, phenol, acetone, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, nitric oxide, radioactive polonium. And worst of all, if they affect the child’s body during the first months of intrauterine development, when there is an active laying of the neural tube and internal organs of the fetus.

At later stages of pregnancy, a natural protective barrier, the placenta, comes into play, but it is also able to retain far from all harmful compounds entering the bloodstream during smoking. Suffice it to say that with each puff, the vessels of the placenta spasm and the blood flow to the fetus is significantly reduced. And nitric oxide, calmly passing through the placental barrier, connecting with hemoglobin, replaces oxygen molecules, thereby further aggravating fetal hypoxia.

Possible consequences for the fetus

The list of the consequences of mother’s smoking for the unborn child is so extensive that it is simply unrealistic to give examples of everything that can happen. It is enough just to give the following statistics:

  • the probability of spontaneous termination of pregnancy in women who smoke is 50-70% higher, and the older the smoker is, the greater the risk;
  • the risk of having a small baby is 2 times higher – almost every second pregnant woman who smokes has a baby weighing less than 2.5 kg;
  • the risk of having a baby with a heart defect, cleft lip, cleft palate, or other congenital anomalies increases by 30%;

Read more about smoking during pregnancy …

And babies born “healthy” are 2 times more likely to suffer from various diseases of the respiratory system, cardiovascular system and digestive tract. Most babies born to mothers who smoke have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and behavior problems.

The effect of cigarettes and nicotine on the development of the fetus can only be compared with the slow-acting poison with which parents poison the unborn baby every day.

Moreover, secondhand smoke, when a pregnant woman is “fumigated” by the future father or other relatives, can also have an extremely negative effect on the child’s health. In such cases, there is less risk of miscarriage or development of congenital defects, but not diseases of internal organs or general developmental delay.

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