If you’re smoking during your pregnancy, this might make you think twice about your habit.
We already know that smoking during pregnancy causes an increased risk for pregnancy complications (from placental problems to miscarriage) and health complications for the unborn baby (like heart defects).
To add to this, a recent study has found that the ill effects of smoking during a pregnancy aren’t confined to the short-term. Research shows that children of mothers who smoked during their pregnancy were more likely to be less physically fit in their young adult life.
“It's well established that smoking and breathing in second-hand smoke are harmful for both mother and baby. Our study adds to the existing evidence base of the negative and long-standing impacts of maternal smoking,” said lead author of the study Dr. Maria Hagnäs from the University of Oulu, Finland in a report.
The study involved collecting and analyzing data from over 500 young men with an average age of 19, of which a number had mothers who smoked throughout their pregnancy. Researchers tested the participants’ aerobic fitness with a running test done at the beginning of the young men's military service assessment.
Results showed that maternal smoking was associated with lower aerobic activity of a mother’s child by the time her offspring grew up to be a young adult. It isn’t just smoking either. A higher maternal BMI and excessive weight gain during pregnancy also led to young adults who are less physically fit.
“Stopping smoking is one of the most important things a pregnant woman can do to improve their baby’s health, growth and development, and this study demonstrates the negative effect smoking in pregnancy can have on a child’s long-term health too,” said Hagnäs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mothers who smoke during their pregnancy are at a higher risk of placental abruption, placenta previa and tissue damage to the unborn baby. Even more terrifying, it can also heighten the chances of a premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.
There’s no escape for the unborn baby as well. Your baby has an increased risk of developing lung and heart problems, obesity, having birth defects and suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
If you aren’t pregnant but are planning to, it might still be a good thing to quit as a study published in the British Medical Journal shows that women who smoked during their reproductive years had a 44% higher risk of stillbirth and ectopic pregnancies, compared to women who were not smokers.
“Women who smoke and are thinking about becoming pregnant need to quit smoking and, if they’re already pregnant, they need to stop. Quitting is the single most important thing a woman can do to improve her health as well as the health of her baby,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.
Sources: Dec. 9, 2015. "Smoking in pregnancy 'affects boys' fitness in later life'". sciencedaily.com Dec. 9, 2015. "Young men have lower aerobic fitness if their mothers smoked during pregnancy". bjog.org May 30, 2014. "Smoking During Pregnancy". webmd.com