Smoking When Pregnant: Here’s Another Reason To Quit Today!

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“Prenatal Nicotine Exposure and Risk of Schizophrenia Among Offspring in a National Birth Cohort/ref published by the American Journal of Psychiatry gathered data on nearly 1000 cases of schizophrenic patients and matched their birth and health records with those of non-affected offspring’s born i…”

The two things that don’t go together is pregnancy and smoking. Doctors get scared when pregnant women smoke because they really can’t save the baby from the harmful effects of cigarettes.


A cigarette contains more than 4000 harmful chemicals which includes cyanide, lead and at least 60 known cancer-causing compounds. These toxins mix up in your blood stream, which when pregnant, is the only source for oxygen and nutrients of your baby. Now, a study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry has proven that women who smokes when pregnant has an increased risk of her baby developing schizophrenia later in their life.

Besides this smoking also causes the following:
1. Lower the amount of oxygen that your baby receives
2. Increase the heart rate of your baby
3. Increases the risk of still birth and miscarriage
4. Increases the risk of premature babies and/or babies born with smaller weight
5. Increases the risk of baby of developing lung diseases or other respiratory distresses

/> 6. Increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Passive smoking or secondhand smoke is just as harmful. The Environmental Protection Agency has classified passive smoking as a group A carcinogen, which means that there are enough studies to prove that passive smoking can also cause cancer in humans. A pregnant woman exposed to second hand smoke while expecting has an increased chance for miscarriage, tubal pregnancy, low birth weight baby, and others. The risks are more because the smoke that burns off at the end of a cigarette or cigar contains more harmful chemicals than the smoke inhaled by the smoker.

Smoking And Schizophrenia

The study[ref]Prenatal Nicotine Exposure and Risk of Schizophrenia Among Offspring in a National Birth Cohort/ref published by the American Journal of Psychiatry gathered data on nearly 1000 cases of schizophrenic patients and matched their birth and health records with those of non-affected offspring’s born in Finland from 1983-1998. The smoking levels of the moms were then compared by looking at nicotine markers in the blood. The study revealed that women who smoked during their pregnancy had an increased

risk of giving birth to a child who later developed schizophrenia. For the chain-smokers, the risk increased by 38%.

This was first of the kind of study where the researchers tried to show the relationship between fetal nicotine exposure and schizophrenia. Alan Brown, a professor at the University of Columbia,[ref] Smoking During Pregnancy May Raise Schizophrenia Risk For Your Baby [ref]fitpregnancy[/ref] said, “These findings underscore the value of ongoing public health education on the potentially debilitating, and largely preventable, consequences that smoking may have on children over time.”

Myths About Smoking During Pregnancy

The more cigarettes you smoke during pregnancy, the greater the chances of your baby developing these complications. There is no safe smoking in pregnancy, so quit now.

Myth #1: There is no risk in having a small baby

Lower birth weight of baby increases the risk of developing serious health issues than normal weight babies. These complications can happen when the baby is a toddler and even when they are adults.

Myth #2: I am already pregnant, there is no point in stopping or I had smoked in my first pregnancy

and I had a healthy baby, why stop now?

Quitting smoking in any stage of your pregnancy is a good idea. When you quit, you at least give your baby some chance at survival. Remember, every time you take that drag of nicotine, you are exposing the fetus to the same harmful substances. Also, since you smoked before and delivered a healthy baby, doesn’t mean that it will happen this time also.

Myth #3: Smoking relaxes me, why should I quit then?

You might feel relaxed when you are smoking, but adverse things are happening in your womb. Your baby’s heart rate increases, its having trouble to breathe and has an increased blood pressure. So quit already!

Myth #4: Smoking lesser is okay.

No amount of cigarette smoke is good. Therefore, quit as soon as you can. Take the help of your healthcare provider.

Myth #5: If I smoke, I should not breastfeed my baby

Doctors would always encourage you to quit smoking when you are pregnant and during breastfeeding. But don’t stop breastfeeding your kid because breast milk is actually good for your baby.

Quitting Smoking

There are

multiple smoking cessation programs available that you can take the help of. Here are some tips that can get you started with the whole process, pregnant or not:

  1. Throw away your cigarettes, hide your matches, lighters and ashtrays
  2. Designate your home as a non-smoking area
  3. Drink lesser caffeinated beverages
  4. Change the habits that you associated with smoking, if you smoked when you were stressed, try out other activities (like exercising or meditation) that would help
  5. Keep mints to help you curb your craving for a smoke
  6. Keep your mind away from smoking, take a walk, join some classes, read a group
  7. Join a group
  8. Do not go clubbing, where people are smoking around you
  9. Opt for nicotine replaces like gums or patches. Talk to your doctor and this is strictly for those who cannot just let go of their craving. Also, remember, nicotine is one of the harmful substances (of the many) in a cigarette.
  10. Acupuncture or hypnosis: Yet to be proven effective, but its drug free and safe.

Remember, that quitting smoking depends on your motivational levels, how many cigarettes you smoke and the strength of your support system.