Recent research has revealed that babies of women who smoke during pregnancy are at greater risk of blood pressure problems at birth. Moreover, these problems could continue throughout the child’s first year and actually get worse over time. The study carried out by the Department of Women and Child Health at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm marked differences between the blood pressure levels and changes in these levels between babies of smoking and non-smoking mothers. The heart rate response to tilting of the children of mothers who smoked was also abnormal and exaggerated.1
The study found that smoke exposure during pregnancy damages a baby's blood pressure control, which may explain why such babies' risk of cot death is higher. Babies exposed to smoke can experience abnormal surges in blood pressure, even when sleeping. These surges place extra demands on the heart, making it pump faster and harder. This could contribute to the phenomenon of sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).
Research has suggested that a third of cot deaths could be avoided if mothers-to-be did not smoke.1
Sew Chung Hong, advises, “quitting should be a top priority for any woman who is pregnant or trying to conceive, but the inhalation of second hand smoke (passive smoking) can be just as harmful. Women need to be aware of the potential effects of smoking on their unborn babies and avoid smoke inhalation at all costs. This means that fathers or fathers-to-be should also consider quitting.”
But how does one quit? Much has been documented about the efficacy of behavioural support programmes to quitting smoking. Research shows that quitters are 6 times more likely to be successful when using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) along with psychological support, than willpower alone.2
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is well documented as “an effective way of gradually reducing a person’s dependence on nicotine”1-3. NRT provides therapeutic nicotine, less than a cigarette but enough to manage cravings, until over time smokers have weaned themselves off their need for cigarettes. The World Health Organisation endorses NRT products as ‘remarkably safe’.3
Nicorette®, South Africa’s leading provider of NRT products offers smokers a comprehensive range of options including patches and gum, as well as free behavioural support programme, the Kickbutt programme.
Sew Chung Hong concludes, “quitting smoking could give your baby the best possible start in life. There is help available and I urge all pregnant women to take advantage of the support and advice which are available”.
Join the Kickbutt Programme by simply visiting www.nicorette.co.za or call the customer line on 0860 410 032