When a pregnant women fails to connect emotionally with the fetus it could lead to heavier smoking during pregnancy, according to a study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. On the opposite end of the spectrum were attached mothers who tended to smoke less.
The study involved just 58 pregnant women asked to answer a 24-question survey. The surveys were completed at 30 weeks gestation and again at 35 week gestation. The women were split into two groups based on the survey scores.
Blood tests were used to measure the amount of cotinine in the blood. The level of cotinine in the blood should parallel smoking level so more cotinine means heavier smoking. When cotinine levels were compared to survey scores researchers found a connection between heavier smoking and lower attachment scores. Though the study was small with just 58 participants, previous studies have come to similar conclusions with attachment being directly connected to the act of smoking during pregnancy.
There is no doubt additional research is needed to assessment the importance of maternal-fetal attachment on maternal health, fetal health and pregnancy outcome among other factors but additional studies are not needed to spark change. Maternal-fetal attachment is crucial to the health and success of a pregnancy. Improving the feelings of attachment between a pregnant women and the fetus could have important medical implications, especially if the growing attachment reflects in reduced smoking or cessation of smoking during and after pregnancy.
Current anti-smoking campaigns aimed at pregnant women address the direct connection between cigarette smoke and maternal health and fetal health. Education is important and the programs work to reduce smoking during pregnancy in many populations, but the results of this study give medical professionals another angle from which they can approach smoking cessation or minimization. By promoting maternal-fetal attachment more mothers will feeling driven to reduce smoking or quit smoking because they feel a stronger attachment to the coming baby.
Source: Susanna R. Magee, Margaret H. Bublitz, Christina Orazine, Bridget Brush, Amy Salisbury, Raymond Niaura, Laura R. Stroud. The Relationship Between Maternal Fetal Attachment and Cigarette Smoking Over Pregnancy. Maternal and Child Health Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10995-013-1330-x.