Passive smoking and how it affects pregnancy and the new-born in the womb – Dr Suhasini

On May 30, 2019 | All

Passive smoking is also called “second hand smoking” and roughly more than 4000 chemicals are there in the smoke. There are 2 things: exhaled air from the person smoking and the smoke coming out of the cigarette. Both the smoke is very dangerous for the mother and the child. In case of mother’s health, the smoke makes the arteries little thick and narrow and there might be chances of leading to miscarriages. The rate of miscarriages become high in this case, further leading to retardation of the baby in the womb, known as IUGR (Intrauterine growth restrictions). It is a condition in which an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb. Delayed growth puts the baby at risk of certain health problems during pregnancy, preterm delivery, and after birth (low birth baby).

Sometimes we also get pre-membrane rupture of babies, where the water breaks. The patient may suffer from pregnancy induced hypertension because of the arteries, blood vessels not behaving well. And diabetes is also a reason which prevails in women who are passive smokers. In babies, their cognitive development (problems in learning and behavioural development). These are the rare cases in Indiranagar we come across.

Many couples come for prenatal counselling and we are not happy with the numbers coming in for the sessions. When we counsel them, we tell them strictly that smoking is harmful, second and third hand smoking isn’t good. Third hand smoking means the person smokes for so many years but the smoke deposits prevail in the environment he/she stays (sofa, carpets, clothes). If the mother/baby inhale smoke particles prevailing in the room, is very bad for the babies because they might develop defect or difficulty in lungs. So we recommend the couples to stop smoking at least for an year or so. Whosoever is a smoker, should go out and smoke and as soon as the person enters the house, he/she should put the clothes to wash. This really helps as all the toxins gets removed while washing it.

I was researching about women suffering from lung cancer and it was shocking to see Southern India is leading. May be because of the cosmopolitan crowd prevailing in cities like Chennai, Bangalore. In terms of lung cancer on rise, Chennai is the leading state because women might be on stress, hypertension which leads them to indulge in activities like smoking. It doesn’t happen in the reproductive age (25 and above). These activities by women starts from teenage years itself.