Effects of Smoking and Alcohol
Effects of Smoking:
Even for a woman who is trying to conceive, smoking causes complications (causes lower fertility levels in both men and women). In women who smoke, the fertility is reduced due to lower level of hormones required for pregnancy and reduced chances of egg to reach the womb from the fallopian tubes. Smoking in men leads to lower sperm levels, changed shape of sperms and lower sperm mobility.
The effects of smoking and drinking are quite harmful on the baby who is still in the mother’s womb. Smoking during pregnancy can cause:
- Lower oxygen reaching the baby, leading to increased heart rate of the baby.
- Increased level of toxins in mother’s blood inhibits normal body functions and affects the feeding of nutrients to the baby.
- Increased chances of miscarriage and premature birth.
- Increased chances of placental abruption (placenta moves away from the womb which may starve the baby of oxygen and lead to premature birth). This can also lead to the baby’s death in the womb.
The effects of smoking during pregnancy can also cause birth defects like:
- Lower birth weight and smaller organs. On an average, 200g less than normal babies. Higher amount of smoking leads to even lower birth weight.
- Increased chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Functioning of the baby’s lungs is also inadequate and increased chances of asthma.
- Poor cognitive development and increased risk of cancers during early childhood.
Women who smoke and who are planning to conceive should put serious efforts towards quitting. Quitting smoking can reduce the risks that a baby would face during pregnancy. It has been observed, that mothers who quit smoking during early to middle stages of their pregnancy, have given birth to normal and healthy babies.
Passive Smoking also has the same effect on the baby’s health. Pregnant women should avoid inhaling cigarette smoke (passive smoking) and avoid places where smoking is allowed. A person who is smoking inside the house should be requested to smoke outside. This will reduce the build up of toxins in the air inside the house.
Effects of Alcohol intake during pregnancy:
During pregnancy, consuming alcohol has been associated with increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth and other complications related to pregnancy.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to some known defects at birth:
- Neurological defects and smaller head size (due to underdeveloped brain).
- Abnormal facial features.
- Stunted physical growth.
- All above is summarized as FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome).
- The effect of heavy drinking during the first few weeks of pregnancy can also affect the baby’s early development of the nervous system.
- Other defect is known as ARND (Alcohol Related Neurodevelopment Disorder). This is characterized by poor motor skills and coordination, poor intellectual levels and attention.
- Low birth weight and increased chances of infant death, skeletal and other organ system abnormalities (known as ARBD – Alcohol Related Birth Defects).
It is not necessary that all these defects are present in an infant whose mother has been consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Some may be present, and some may not.
These defects are quite harmful and stay with the child for his/her entire life. Breastfeeding is also known to be affected by consuming alcohol, as alcohol can pass to the baby through breast milk. It is best if alcohol is NOT consumed during pregnancy and during breastfeeding to keep the baby safe and healthy.