No butts about smoking once you know you're pregnant
A European study shows that it is not too late for women to quit smoking once they know that they are a pregnant.
It is not too late for women to stop smoking during their pregnancy. AFP reported that recent studies show women who quit smoking once they find out they are pregnant can give birth to a baby weighing the same as a child born to a non-smoker.
Nick Macklon, a professor at the University of Southampton presented his findings at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). The study is based on more than 50,000 pregnant women in Southampton between 2002 and 2010.
At the conference, Macklon says: "Once you find you're pregnant, it's not too late to do something about your smoking. If you stop smoking, you can have a baby with the same birth weight as if you'd never smoked,"
He added that birth weight was an important predictor of long-term health.
But "if you find you're pregnant and you continue smoking, that will have a major effect on the birth weight of your child," he warned.
Researchers have known for many years that smoking is detrimental to foetal health, but Macklon said this is the largest study to date showing how stopping smoking improves pregnancy outcomes.
The study showed that women who quit smoking once they discovered they were pregnant had babies that weighed an average of 300 grams more than babies born to women who smoked throughout their pregnancy.
"I think that's very encouraging news," said Macklon, who also works at Southampton's Complete fertility centre.
"While many couples will try to prepare themselves for pregnancy and adjust their lifestyle, still the majority of pregnancies are unplanned... What we are able to say is 'even if you haven't planned it, it's still not too late to do something about it'."
The researchers started following the women at the time of the first pregnancy-related medical visit, or about seven or eight weeks into term. Outwardly, this might suggest that women can smoke almost two months into their pregnancy and still give birth to normal-weight babies. However, Macklon stressed the negative effects of tobacco on an unborn child were far greater than only birth weight. Foetal abnormalities and cleft lip were among the effects that could be caused by a woman smoking before she realises she is expecting -- and even before the baby is conceived.
"The message ought to be 'stop smoking before you conceive,' but in the real world, many people fall pregnant unplanned, and therefore there is still a positive a message for them," he added.
- Courtesy of www.hpb.gov.sg - Joanna Koh
In Singapore, the Health Promotion Board recently started the I Quit Club to encourage and provide a support group for quitters as well as those who would like to quit smoking. It is never easy to say I Quit. With the aim of celebrating individuals who have found their reason and the courage to quit smoking, the campaign provides a series of real life stories of how ex-smokers started their journey to stopping the bad habit. Now with this new European study, there are more reasons for a pregnant woman to kick the bad habit. If you're an ex-smoker or on that tough journey of quitting for your child's health, we would like to hear from me. Share with us your thoughts and stories.
Photo credit: m4r00n3d, HPB