Pregnant women are often exposed to passive smoking. When they are exposed to such smoke, they are likely to have higher rate of miscarriage, stillbirths and fetal deaths.
More than 80 percent of secondhand smoke is invisible, doesn’t smell but is highly toxic.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), if a non-smoker inhales from the burning end of a cigarette then she is directly exposed to more than 4,000 chemicals and toxic substances which can cause chronic diseases.
In fact, non-smokers breathe in the same toxic chemicals as smokers do. There is no risk-free level of exposure to such smoke.
Though secondhand smoke is commonly surrounding us, such exposure can lead to a variety of health issues in adults, children and pregnant women.
“The smoke which contains hazardous chemical substances reaches the fetus through placenta, which provides oxygen and nutrients to growing baby. The inhaled nicotine which is largely present in secondhand smoke can decrease the blood flow to the unborn baby affecting its heart, lungs, digestive system and central nervous system,” says Dr Amudha Hari, consultant, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Motherhood Hospital.
High level of passive smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy. This is mainly due to the chemicals present in the smoke that is inhaled by pregnant woman.
“Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase the risk of intrauterine growth retardation and lower birth weight. Baby is more likely to be born early and need to stay in hospital for long period after birth,” says Dr Amudha.
Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are about three times more likely to be affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a disorder where an infant die unexpectedly while they are in sleep.
“There are chances that the baby is born with weaker lungs with increased health issues, respiratory and pulmonary disorders. Women should avoid exposure to passive smoking as it can cause cancer, miscarriage and other disorder to the child. The newborn should also be kept away from toxic smoke to avoid long-term ailments,” says oncologist Dr Anitha Ramesh.