Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by smokers getting into the nostril of a non-smoker or third party. Non-smokers can be exposed to secondhand smoke in several ways and places including in homes, cars, at workplaces and public places such as bars, restaurants, and recreational settings. In the United States for example, the source of most secondhand smoke is cigarettes, followed by pipes, cigars, and other tobacco products. It is important to know that secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of the chemicals are toxic and about 70 are known to cause cancer. And because nicotine in all these can be very devastating owing to the complications that come with it, it is only fear that we discuss the effects of secondhand smoke and nicotine addiction in pregnancy as one of the severe consequences that come with such addictions.
Doctor Akoury an expert in addiction and weight lose says that when it comes to nicotine, there is no threshold of safety. So long as one is receiving nicotine in his system mode of receipt notwithstanding any exposure to nicotine, whether through secondhand smoke or direct cigarette smoking nicotine is not friendly. So when you are around a person who is smoking, you inhale the same dangerous chemicals as the smoker. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous because it is all about nicotine and not how it got to your system. The dangers of inhaling secondhand smoke can cause serious health complications including lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. In the United States for example it is estimated that up to 3,000 adults die each year due to lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure. And according to the U.S. Surgeon General, living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20% to 30%.
Besides cancer, exposure to secondhand smoke can also cause coronary heart disease and have negative effects on your blood and blood vessels thereby increasing your risk of getting a heart attack. Heart diseases caused by secondhand smoke kill approximately 46,000 nonsmokers every year. People who already have heart disease are at an especially high risk of suffering negative effects from inhaling secondhand smoke and should avoid even brief exposure to it.
Because studies show that laws banning smoking in public places help improve worker and customer health, many states and communities have laws making workplaces, public places, restaurants, and bars smoke-free. But millions of children and adults still breathe secondhand smoke in their homes, cars, workplaces, and in public places.
Pregnant women who inhale secondhand smoke are more likely to have lower birth weight babies than women who do not inhale secondhand smoke. Once born, babies who are around cigarette smoke are more likely to get ear infections, develop bronchitis and pneumonia and die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Therefore secondhand smoke can cause serious health problems in children, including:
- Frequent lower respiratory illness
- Wheezing and coughing
- More frequent and severe asthma attacks
- Ear infections
It is therefore advisable that, women who are pregnant should avoid surroundings where heavy concentrations of secondhand smoke linger.
For luck of better words I will say that it is never safe to stay around smokers when pregnant let alone smoking. This is very dangerous because smoking while pregnant: affects the placenta which is the source of your baby’s food and oxygen, lowers the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby and also increases the following:
- Your baby’s heart rate
- The risk that your baby will be born prematurely
- The risk that your baby will be born with low birth weight
- Your baby’s risk of developing respiratory problems
- The chances of stillbirth
- The risk for certain birth defects like a cleft lip or cleft palate
- The risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Besides that, children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are at greater risk of: behavioral problems, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disorders and becoming smokers themselves in the future. Therefore I recommend strongly that all pregnant women who are smoking should quit right way if not permanently then at least during their pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, it is never too late to quit smoking. There are benefits to quitting smoking at any stage of your pregnancy. Quitting as soon as possible will help protect you and your baby from some health problems, such as low birth weight.
Secondhand smoke and nicotine addiction in pregnancy: Shouldn’t it be easy for me to quit smoking while pregnant?
No. Quitting smoking is hard for most women. Women who were smoking when they got pregnant often have to make more than one attempt to quit for good.
You might think it is safe to start smoking again after your baby is born, but your baby is not out of harm’s way. Remember that secondhand smoke is equally dangerous not just for your baby but to people around you. The best thing to do is to quit permanently because babies who are around cigarette smoke: have weaker lungs than other babies, are more likely to have health problems such as infections and more frequent asthma attacks and are at increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Therefore you need to protect your baby doing the following:
- Do not allow anyone to smoke near your child.
- Do not smoke or let others smoke in your home or car.
- Use childcare providers who do not smoke.
- Do not eat in restaurants that allow smoking.
- Do not take your child to other indoor public places that allow smoking.
- Teach children to stay away from secondhand smoke.
Of course you can and you should breastfeed your baby because breast milk is very good for your baby. However, smoking may make it difficult to breastfeed because it changes your breast milk, disrupt your baby’s sleeping patterns and may even cause you to have problems releasing the breast milk. In conclusion life is lived once and doing the right things will help you have comfort in that life. Therefore for your health and your baby’s, you should quit smoking. Doing this will not be easy, and therefore, you need to consult with doctor Dalal Akoury to help you go about it professionally and in the most healthy way.