If a woman falls pregnant and she is a smoker, she should stop smoking for the nine months that she is pregnant. Tobacco can have terrible effects on an unborn child.
The effects of tobacco on an unborn child
- The organs and tissues of an unborn baby do not develop well because oxygen cannot be carried by the blood of a smoking mother and her unborn baby.
- Babies born to smoking mothers are smaller than babies of non-smoking mothers.
- Low birth-weight babies are more likely to die at birth.
- The presence of tobacco smoke has been found in new born babies.
- Babies born to mothers who smoke get sick more often. They develop more slowly than babies of non-smoking mothers. They may also not do well in school in the early years.
Pregnancy and smoking
If a pregnant woman smokes there is a higher risk of:
- start of labour before the time
- bleeding for the mother
- reduced breastmilk
Protect your child from tobacco smoke
- The poisons in cigarettes can pass through breast milk of the smoking mother to her baby.
- Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy also get more coughs, colds, bronchitis and pneumonia than other babies.
- Children whose parents smoke get more serious chest illnesses like bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia than children whose parents do not smoke.
- Children of smoking parents inhale the same amount of nicotine as if they themselves smoked the cigarette.
- Do not take your child into the smoking area of a restaurant.
- Many studies have shown that children are more likely to smoke if one or more parents smoke.
- Parents who smoke should be aware of the dangers of tobacco and should do everything possible to encourage their children not to start smoking. Children should be provided with information about tobacco and the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. Provide them with information about the immediate and long-term health effects of tobacco use and the addictiveness of the product.
- Children often use women as their role-models. Mothers especially influence smoking behaviour.
- No person should smoke in a house, car, taxi, train or bus when children are present.
(The Cape Town No-Tobacco Forum Task Group)