Smoking and heart defects

cigarette-buttsWe all know that smoking isn’t good for us, but it’s hard to quit. There is growing evidence linking mom’s cigarette smoking during the first trimester with the occurrence of some birth defects. In the past we learned that smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk of a developing baby having a cleft lip or palate. A new study finds it might also increase the risk of the baby having a heart defect.

When you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is exposed to dangerous chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. These chemicals can lessen the amount of oxygen that your baby gets. Oxygen is very important for helping your baby grow healthy. Smoking can also damage your baby’s lungs.

The findings from a new study out of Baltimore are in line with findings from previous studies, including those from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, suggesting that maternal cigarette smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy might be a modest risk factor for certain heart defects.

Congenital heart defects are conditions present at birth that decrease the ability of the heart to work well, which can result in an increased likelihood of death or long-term disabilities. They affect nearly 40,000 infants in the United States every year.

We know quitting smoking can be hard, really hard, but it is one of the best ways a woman can protect herself and her baby’s health. Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best. But for a woman who is already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems for the baby, such as low birthweight. Whatever you can do to limit the amount of smoke you and you’re your baby are exposed to is fabulous.  Need help? Call this free number: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

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