By Louis Neipris, M.D., Staff Writer, myOptumHealth
If you are pregnant and people around you are smoking, take note. Secondhand smoke puts you, your pregnancy and the health of your unborn child at risk. Why? Because even if you're not smoking yourself, secondhand smoke - the smoke from the burning cigarette and from the mouth of the smoker - is also a health hazard.
Secondhand smoke and fertility
Secondhand smoke can actually affect your ability to start a healthy pregnancy. A group of cells called the corpus luteum secretes hormones to help the uterus (womb) prepare for implantation of the fertilized egg. Toxins from secondhand smoke interfere with this hormone secretion. As a result, the uterus may not be as ready to accept a fertilized egg. Or the fertilized egg could implant in the uterus, but not root itself, leading to an early miscarriage.
Secondhand smoke and the placenta
The placenta is an oval, flat organ through which oxygen and nutrients pass from the mother's blood to the developing baby. Growth and development of the baby depends on a healthy placenta. The placenta has its own rich supply of blood vessels. Placenta problems can endanger the life of the mother and baby. Women who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have problems with the placenta. These include:
Secondhand smoke and the fetus
Exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to the loss of the baby at any time during the pregnancy. Also, even at full term, if you are exposed to secondhand smoke during your pregnancy, you have a 20 percent greater chance of giving birth to a low birth weight baby compared to women who are not exposed. There is also a higher chance for a still birth.
Secondhand smoke and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of an infant during the first year of life. Studies support the fact that secondhand smoke is linked to a higher rate of SIDS. The American Lung Association estimates that secondhand smoke causes 1,900 to 2,700 SIDS deaths in the U.S. every year. Chemicals in secondhand smoke are found in brain tissue, and may interfere with the regulation of an infant's breathing. Compared to infants who die of other causes, more infants who die from SIDS:
To lower the risk of SIDS, keep your baby in a smoke-free environment. Also, make sure your baby sleeps face-up, on his back.
Minimizing exposure to secondhand smoke
View the original Secondhand smoke: a danger during and after pregnancy article on myOptumHealth.com
These Web sites are for your informational use only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider. Also consult your healthcare provider before starting any medications or supplements or beginning or modifying any exercise program.
© 2012 OptumHealth, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of information on this page may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of OptumHealth, Inc.