Smoking is considered one of the worst addictive vices you can have. Enormous efforts have been made to extoll the virtues of "kicking butt" but most experts acknowledge that it is one of the most difficult habits to give up. That being said, we do know how dangerous smoking can be to a growing fetus. A mother who continues to smoke while pregnant puts her health at risk, while also running the risk that her baby will be have a: low birth rate, born prematurely, be at risk for death and certainly be at risk for a host of other health issues related to exposure to nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide.
A study in the December 1st issue of the journal, Sleep, is the first study to show that high levels of pre-natal smoking exposure to a growing baby, can modify sleep patterns in pre-term infants (those babies born before their due date) and place those preemies at significantly higher risk of developmental difficulties through early and mid-childhood.
When we classify "heavy pre-term smoking" we are referring to more than 10 cigarettes/day. The differences in the sleep cycle of these babies included sleeping 2 hours less between 7 pm and 8 am as well as exhibiting more fragmented and less deep quality sleep. When compared to the babies born of non-smokers, babies born to both light and heavy smokers had much more body movements during sleep and therefore more disturbed sleep.
Experts also believe that these babies are at risk for enormous health implications because of the sleep disturbances, soon after birth and even later in life. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is higher in these babies, ADD and ADHD, higher impulsivity in teens and more serious respiratory and cardiac health problems. Experts do believe that if the smoking stops after the babies are born (so they are no longer exposed to daily cigarette smoke) then some recovery and reduction of risks could occur.
These kind of studies can help neonatologists and pediatricians identify these high risk preemies so that they are given more intensive scrutiny and care early on in their lives to help reduce the risk of some of these negative outcomes. I say - "If this doesn't convince you to stop smoking before, during and after pregnancy" then....don't get pregnant. The life you affect is not only your own, but also the innocent life of your baby.
Published On: December 10, 2008