Facts in Australia
- Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, premature labour, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- In 2009, 14.5% of Australian women, or one in seven, smoked during pregnancy
- Pregnant women aged under 35 years were more likely to smoke (14%) than those aged 35 years or older (9%)
- Being pregnant or wanting to start a family is a factor that motivates 11% of women to change their smoking behavior.
- Many reduce the number of cigarette they smoke or attempt to quit once they find out they are pregnant.
- 30% of women quit when they find out they are pregnant.
- 70% return to smoking once the baby is a year old.
How do the chemicals in cigarette smoke affect babies?
Carbon Monoxide is attached to the baby’s red blood cells; this significantly reduces the ability of the fetus to carry oxygen.
Nicotine also crosses the placenta raising fetal blood pressure and affects the baby’s ability to practice breathing movements.
Other Chemicals in tobacco smoke that cross the placenta are known carcinogens.
Women who smoke during pregnancy are:
Twice as likely to have a baby which is of low birth weight or growth retarded
One-third more likely to have a baby that is born prematurely
Three times more likely to have a baby that dies from SIDS
One-third increase risk of miscarriage and still born
Smoking during pregnancy accounts for:
11% of all ectopic pregnancies (pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tube)
9% of all miscarriages (spontaneous abortions)
The risk of miscarriage increases with the number of cigarettes smoked
Pregnancy and quitting
Women who quit smoking before pregnancy reduce the risk of:
- Delay in becoming pregnant
Women who quit during pregnancy reduce the risk of:
- Premature breaking of the waters
- Delivery before the due date
- Low birth weight
- Stillbirth and death in the month after birth
- Quitting at any time during the pregnancy improves the outcomes for both the mother and the baby.
Passive smoking, babies and children
Babies exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to:
- Die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or cot death)
- Have serious chest illnesses such as pneumonia, croup and bronchitis
- Be admitted to hospital.
Children exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to:
- Suffer from asthma
- Middle ear infection
- Meningococcal disease
Prolonged exposure to other people’s cigarette smoke can cause lung cancer and heart disease in adults. The processes causing these diseases can start in childhood.
For more information and support call the Quit-line 13 7848 or visit the website www.quitnow.gov.au
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