It is fairly common knowledge that smoking tobacco during your pregnancy will have negative effects on your baby. These effects, however, are still fairly unclear in the medical world. Many of these studies attempt to show what happens to babies born to smokers, but few studies focus on why such conditions occur. A recent study focused more on the effects of tobacco in the pregnant women themselves, and it showed how these effects hinder development and health of the fetus.

If you are a smoker, you probably already know that cigarettes restrict your blood vessels. Such restriction can temporarily increase your blood pressure. While this is only a small problem relative to the other issues that can come about with smoking, it is magnified when its effects on a fetus are studied. A recent study examined the restriction of arteries essential to birth in smokers, including the umbilical artery. The results of the study showed that, in pregnant women who continued to smoke through gestation, more constriction was prevalent in all arteries that were examined. Additionally, lower birth weights were observed.

In addition to proving that smoking during pregnancy can cause low birth weight, the study showed that the negative effects were dose-dependent. In other words, women who smoked only a little bit during pregnancy had healthier babies than those who smoked a lot, since their arteries were less constricted. Functioning arteries are essential to the nutrition and development of fetuses, so keeping them open and function at their best is ideal.

Smoking tobacco is known to have many negative effects. Cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and asthma are just a few of the major risks that smokers face. The negative side effects can also be handed down to the fetus of pregnant smokers. Cigarettes constrict blood flow, so smoking while pregnant cuts off some of the major lines of nutrients that an infant needs. If you are a smoker and are considering having a baby, consider quitting for the duration of your pregnancy. Low birth weight is a major risk for the babies of pregnant smokers. The problems associated with low birth weight can affect an individual throughout the duration of their entire life. It has been linked to higher rates of infant mortality, stunted child development and compromised health as an adult. Since low birth rate is a proven result of smoking cigarette use during pregnancy should be reconsidered.

Source: Julia de Machado et al: Quantitative Effects of Tobacco Smoking Exposure on the Maternal-Fetal Circulation. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth Volume 11 March 2011