Environmental Dangers: More than Hype

While the dangers posed by many chemicals in our daily lives are still not fully understood, we do know that some of the most common cigarette smoke, alcohol and illegal drugs are not safe during pregnancy.

These are habits that have never been considered healthy but they pose particular threats to your unborn child:

  • Smoking before, during or after birth affects both your health and your baby's. Living with someone who smokes also affects the health of mothers and infants. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide, all of which cross the placenta and reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients the baby receives.

    Smoking increases the chance of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight. Children born to women who smoked during pregnancy are more prone to colds, chest infections, and ear infections.

    Quitting smoking during pregnancy has definite benefits; even cutting back late in pregnancy can reduce the risk for low birth weight.
  • Alcohol can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), one of the leading forms of mental retardation and physical abnormalities in the U.S. The severity of FAS is directly related to the amount of alcohol ingested by the mother during pregnancy.

    While the risks of drinking large amounts2 or more drinks per daycare well known, its not known how safe even very low amounts of alcohol are during pregnancy. Dont fret if you had a few drinks before you knew you were pregnant, but until more research is done it is smart and safe to abstain from wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks until after your baby is born. Then you'll have plenty of reason to celebrate!

  • Illegal drugs are never safe in pregnancy. Marijuana, like cigarette smoke, reduces the amount of oxygen a baby receives, and may result in a low birth weight and other problems. Cocaine use increases the chance of preterm birth by 25%. Babies who survive exposure to illegal drugs during pregnancy are very likely to have lifelong physical, behavioral and emotional issues. Some exposed infants will experience withdrawal as newborns, requiring a longer hospital stay.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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