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Issue of Smoking during Pregnancy

Info: 2045 words (8 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 2nd Jun 2020

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Tagged: pregnancysmoking

Smoking during Pregnancy

Smoking is a significant issue with numerous diseases attached to the habit in today’s society. Even nonsmokers experience health issues as a result of the inhalation of smoke from smokers. The nonsmokers are called passive smokers. It has been confirmed medically that both passive smokers and active smokers are subjected to equal health complications of smoking (Cao, 2015). Similarly, a pregnant woman that smokes would cause some health implications for the fetus and the newborn. In fact, the majority of adults, including pregnant smokers are aware of the health consequences of smoking on the baby in their womb (Flemming 2014). Therefore, it is essential that proper and adequate orientation should be given on the implications of smoking during pregnancy. The focus of this paper is to research the health implications of smoking on the fetus. Furthermore, the research will explore the ways of preventing the health effects and complications of smoking on the fetus by supplements or education.

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Smoking during pregnancy causes an unexpected loss of pregnancy. Smoking during the early period of pregnancy has been observed to be a significant cause of loss of pregnancy. Research has shown that the probability of miscarriage occurs to a pregnant woman that indulge in smoking during the first three months of the pregnancy. In rare occurrences, the miscarriage occurs after 20 weeks of gestation (Walsh, 1994). The terrible loss of the fetus at the early stage of pregnancy is called stillbirth. Likewise, data obtained from the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that smoking increases the likelihoods of both early miscarriage and stillbirth. The loss of the fetus is highly related to the harmful chemical substances in the cigarette, such as carbon monoxide, nicotine, and tar (Ramsay, 2000).

Another consequence of smoking during pregnancy is Ectopic pregnancy. According to the information published by the world health organization, chemicals compound nicotine, which is among the constituents of cigarettes causes the fallopian tube of a pregnant woman to contract. The contraction further causes the passage of an egg to be a difficult task (Walsh, 1994). Consequently, the fertilized egg could be implanted in another region that is not the uterus. Ideally, eggs are implanted in the uterus, and fetus development takes place in the region. The type of pregnancy in which the egg is not implanted in the uterus is referred to as ectopic pregnancy.  In this case, the pregnancy must be aborted by a doctor as early as possible to avoid damaging the mother’s reproductive system. The ectopic pregnancy is also a loss of fetus, thereby constituting an adverse health effect to the fetus.

The placenta provides the food materials that sustain the fetus in the womb of a woman. The placenta is vital for the survival of the fetus, and it is regarded as the fetus’s lifeline; it is essential as it provides the fetus with oxygen and the necessary nutrients. However, smoking makes the placenta to detach itself from the umbilical cord earlier to the birth of a child; the situation is known as placental abruption. The condition leads to excessive bleeding that may be risky to the life of both the mother and the child. The only remedy to the abnormal medical condition is an early diagnosis. There is no medical procedure to reconnect the umbilical cord to the placenta. A study conducted confirms a positive relationship between cigarette smoking during pregnancy and placental abruption (Ananth CV, 1996). The authors conducted an epidemiologic study to assess the role of smoking cigarette during pregnancy as a potential risk factor for placental abruption, previa of the placenta, and bleeding of uterine of unknown etiology in pregnancy.  The study data were obtained from women seeking prenatal care at any of the two tertiary, seven regional, or 17 community hospitals in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Smoking during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth. Preterm birth is when a mother delivers her baby very early before the expected date of delivery (EDD). Significant risks are linked with the early delivery of the baby. These include effect on the hearing and visual ability of the child, mental disorder, and health complications that subsequently can lead to the death of the baby. A study conducted among some group of pregnant smokers to ascertain the relationship between preterm birth and smoking during pregnancy revealed that the overall rate of preterm delivery was 4.3%. Also, it was revealed that smokers had a 40% higher risk of giving birth to preterm compared with nonsmokers. A dose-response relationship was found between smoking and the risk of preterm birth. The study further showed that the caffeine content of cigarette has a profound effect on giving birth to preterm. It revealed that taking more than 400 mg of caffeine per day increases the chance of preterm by almost threefold (Wisborg K, 1996). Furthermore, a dose-response association was established among women with a high intake of caffeine; women that smoke one to five cigarettes in a day had no increased risk of preterm birth relative with nonsmokers with the equal intake of caffeine, women that smoke six to ten cigarettes in a day had almost three times higher risk of preterm birth. Similarly, women that smoke more than ten cigarettes in a day had almost five times higher risk of preterm birth relative to nonsmokers with the same intake of caffeine.

Smoking can cause the weight of the child to be less than the standard weight at childbirth. Underweight at infancy has many health implications for the child. The implications include cerebral palsy, which is a set of perpetual movement disorders that occurs in early childhood. Symptoms are poor coordination, taut muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. Others include delay of development in a child, and vision and hearing impairment (Henry, 2004). American Cancer Society suggests that if a mother quits smoking before getting pregnant, the chances of giving birth to a child with lower weight than the standard weight is significantly lowered.

Also, smoking during pregnancy increases the probability of giving birth to a child with some congenital disabilities (Ramsay, 2000). Some of the defects include heart problems, breathing difficulties, and low immune system. In fact, in some situations, the formation of the structure of the heart is altered due as a result of the smoking effects.

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Many studies have been carried on how to ameliorate the health effects of smoking on offspring. The use of supplements such as vitamin c has proven effective in reducing the challenges (McEvoy, 2014).  Smoking during pregnancy adversely affects the development of the lung of the offspring. It decreases the functions of the pulmonary and increases the asthma risk for an extended period in the offspring. The result of the research indicates that vitamin C blocked some of the in-utero effects of nicotine on the development of lung and pulmonary function of the offspring. Similarly, supplemental vitamin C that is used by pregnant smokers’ showed improved results of newborn PFT and reduced wheezing through 1 year in the offspring (McEvoy, 2014). Vitamin C use by pregnant smokers is a low-priced and straightforward approach to reduce the effects of smoking during pregnancy on newborn pulmonary function and respiratory morbidities

Sure, having new pregnant mothers eliminate smoking altogether from their normalcy would be ideal, but with smoking comes a type of addiction and need that in some individuals, it is simply unrealistic. How can we fix the issue? Education is an integral part of this, of course. Mothers tend to know smoking can complicate a pregnancy, but do they know how much risks it places the unborn baby in with respiratory issues and decrease the growth rate? These babies cannot control what the mother does while they are in the womb, yet they are the ones that suffer from what the mother chooses. How do these pregnant mothers justify their decisions to continue to smoke throughout pregnancy? According to a study asking this question, there were four major themes of why they chose to continue smoking. They included the mothers having a healthy baby previously while smoking throughout the pregnancy, the argument that smoking helps with personal gains and social lives, the belief that the consequences of smoking will never affect them, and the simple lack of desire to stop smoking is not present (Goszczyriska, Knol-Michalowska, & Petrykowska, 2016). Consequently, orientation on the therapeutic effects of smoking during pregnancy, as highlighted in this paper should be taken more seriously.


Smoking during pregnancy has been proven to be a dangerous act that can endanger the fetus. Some of the health complications on the fetus that could result from a pregnant woman that smokes have been identified. They include unexpected loss of a pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, preterm birth, low birth weight, and congenital disabilities. However, it is sad that most mothers still indulge in smoking regardless of the imminent danger that smoking poses to the fetus and newborn. Even CDC report revealed that 10% of the total pregnant women admitted to having smoked during the first three months of their pregnancy (Henry, 2004). Nevertheless, the way to avoid smoking-related complications is to quit smoking. Also, the use of supplements like vitamin is effective. Education of pregnant women on the dangers of smoking should be accorded high priority. A pregnant woman that smokes should seek Experts’ advice such therapists and medical professionals.


  • Ananth CV, e. (1996). Maternal cigarette smoking as a risk factor for placental abruption, placenta previa, and uterine bleeding in pregnancy. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8890666
  • Cao, S., Yang, C., Gan, Y., & Lu, Z. (2015). The Health Effects of Passive Smoking: An Overview of Systematic Reviews Based on Observational Epidemiological Evidence. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595077/
  • Flemming, K., McCaughan, D., Angus, K., & Graham, H. (2014). Qualitative systematic review: barriers and facilitators to smoking cessation experienced by women in pregnancy and following childbirth. Journal Of Advanced Nursing71(6), 1210-1226. doi: 10.1111/jan.12580
  • Goszczyńska, E., Knol-Michałowska, K., & Petrykowska, A. (2016). How do pregnant women justify smoking? A qualitative study with implications for nurses’ and midwives’ anti-tobacco interventions. Journal Of Advanced Nursing72(7), 1567-1578. doi: 10.1111/jan.12949
  • Gould, G., & Oncken, C. (2014). Management of smoking in pregnant women. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1499361199/fulltextPDF/A5CFAAE9F99347EDPQ/1?accountid=30659
  • Henry, L. C. (2002). Predictors of stage movement toward smoking cessation in pregnant women. Lewiston, N.Y: E. Mellen Press.
  • McEvoy, MD, C. T., Schilling, RRT, D., & Clay, BS, N. (2014, May 28). Vitamin C and Newborns of Pregnant Smokers. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1873133
  • Ramsay, M. C. (2000). The putative effects of smoking by pregnant women on birthweight, IQ, and developmental disabilities in their infants: A methodological review and multivariate analysis.
  • Walsh, R.A (1994). Smoking cessation in pregnancy. [Atlanta, Ga.]: The Division.
  • Wisborg K, e. (1996). Smoking during pregnancy and preterm birth. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8760711


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Smoking is an extremely crucial public health issue which is considered to be an immediate and serious threat to many developing countries across the globe. Being one of the most significant determinants of increased rate of mortality and ill-health throughout the world, smoking is still a preventable epidemic.

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