Why it is harmful to smoke during pregnancy
A baby in the womb gets everything from its mother. Nutrients and oxygen come via the placenta and umbilical cord. Smoking not only exposes the baby to toxins in tobacco smoke, but it also damages placental function.
When a person smokes, some of the oxygen in their blood is replaced by carbon monoxide. If a pregnant woman smokes, her blood and therefore her child's blood will contain less oxygen than normal. This can cause the babies heart rate to rise as baby struggles to get enough oxygen. Some times we can see the damage to the placenta with ultrasound scanning.
The particles in tobacco smoke contain different toxic substances that change the blood's ability to work in a healthy and normal manner. This can affect the placenta that feeds the baby.
Babies born to mothers who smoke are more likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight (below 2.5kg or 5lb 8oz). and have poorer lung function.
Are twice as likely to die from cot death. There seems to be a direct link between cot death and parents smoking.
Are more likely to get painful diseases such as inflammation of the middle ear and asthmatic bronchitis more frequently in early childhood.
Are more likely to become smokers themselves in later years.