Most people know that tobacco use is hazardous to a person’s health. It causes heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease and many other health problems.
But did you ever wonder about the effects of tobacco on pregnant women and their unborn or newborn children?
When a pregnant woman uses tobacco or is exposed to tobacco smoke during or after her pregnancy, she places her health and the health of her child at risk.
When a pregnant woman uses tobacco, so does her unborn baby.
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals; over 250 of these chemicals are toxic and nearly 60 are known to cause cancer.
Chemicals found in tobacco smoke include ammonia (found in household cleaners), carbon monoxide (a component of car exhaust), formaldehyde (found in embalming fluid), and arsenic (used as a deadly poison).
Pregnant women who use tobacco are at higher risk for miscarriage and premature labor than women who do not use tobacco during pregnancy.
Tobacco use during pregnancy also affects the body’s ability to deliver vital nutrients to a developing child, affecting growth and development during and after pregnancy.
Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke are three times more likely to develop asthma, and are at increased risk for chronic bronchitis, ear infections, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning problems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends making your home and vehicle smoke free, and insist that no one smoke or use tobacco products around you or your children.
If you use tobacco and are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or have children in your home, now is a good time to quit.
For information about available programs contact the Northwest PA Tobacco Control Program at 451-6709, the PA Quitline at (800) 784-8669, or visit Quitnet.com.
All programs are available at no cost.
Laura A. Beckes is tobacco program coordinator for the Northwest Pennsylvania Tobacco Control Program.