Quit smoking for a healthy pregnancy

By Shayna Brouker • Published: March 28th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s well-known that cigarettes and babies don’t mix, but being tobacco-free should begin long before a pregnancy.

Women who want to get pregnant, or those simply wanting to enjoy a normal period of fertility, should not only avoid smoking but also secondhand smoke, according to a new study by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Based on research involving more than 80,000 women enrolled in a program called the Women’s Health Initiative, tobacco smoke in any form was associated with infertility and early menopause.

The study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, found that current and former smokers are 14 percent more likely to be infertile and 26 percent more likely have early menopause when compared to non-smokers. Those exposed to very high levels of secondhand smoke were 18 percent more likely to experience both infertility and early menopause. The researchers noted that secondhand smoke from a cigarette or cigar contains the same toxic materials such as tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine that smokers inhaled. These toxins are delivered to an unborn child through the mother’s bloodstream and can disrupt hormones.

Here’s what cigarette smoke can do: It lowers the amount of oxygen available to the mother and baby, raises the baby’s heart rate, heightens the likelihood of premature birth and low birth weight and increases the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, among other dangers.

For moms-to-be, it’s not enough to quit tobacco yourself. Women looking to get pregnant — and their partners — should avoid secondhand smoke altogether. Clean air is step one toward a healthy pregnancy.