Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Why Pregnant Mother Should Not Smoke?

Tobacco smoking is bad for the health. It would lead to many chronic diseases including lung cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, stroke, erectile dysfunction and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

The harm often extends not only to the smokers themselves but also to others, especially the family members and friends. Studies have shown that people might develop similar diseases through secondhand smoke.

Smoking is no longer the privilege for men. Many women have picked up this habit as well.

Around 15 percent of women smoke while pregnant in many Western countries. What these female smokers do not know is that a wide range of childhood health problems, including behavioral and neurocognitive problems and sudden infant death had been linked to smoking during and after pregnancy.

A recent study by researchers from the University of Sydney found that pregnant mothers who smoke could cause changes to their unborn babies that can lead them to have lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL is commonly referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ that plays a key role in protecting against atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the artery wall thickens because of accumulation of fatty materials. It could cause heart problems and even heart attack.

Published on June 21, 2011 in the European Heart Journal, the Australian researchers reported that by the age of 8, children born to mothers who smoked in pregnancy had level of HDL cholesterol at around 1.3 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), which was lower than those born to mothers who had not smoked, with about 1.5 mmol/L.

The participants were 405 healthy 8-years-old children (born between 1997 and 1999) who had been enrolled before birth into a randomized controlled trial that was investigating asthma and allergic disease. Data were collected before and after they were born, including information on mothers' smoking habits before and after pregnancy, exposure to passive smoke, and data on height, weight, waist measurement and blood pressure.

Ultrasound scans were used to measure the arterial wall thickness and blood samples were taken from 328 children, who agreed, to measure lipoprotein levels. There was no effect on the thickness of the children's arterial walls, but it was found that there was an effect on levels of HDL cholesterol.

The findings suggested that smoking created an unhealthy set of characteristics on babies while they are developing in the womb, which might cause them prone to develop heart disease and stroke later on. The effect seemed to last for at least 8 years and the risk of getting heart disease for smokers’ children could be 10 to 15 percent higher.

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