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Smoking and Pregnancy: Link to Birth Defects


Janu 19 Tobacco article January is recognized as Missouri Birth Defects Prevention and Awareness Month to remind women of childbearing age that steps can be taken to promote a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.  Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States.  That means nearly 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year.  Birth defects are structural changes present at birth that can affect almost any part or parts... of the body.  They can range from mild to severe.
Since over half of pregnancies are unplanned, it is important that all women capable of becoming pregnant maintain good health habits before getting pregnant. Abstaining from smoking is one important way to ensure a healthy baby and a healthy mother.
Smoking during pregnancy affects the mother’s and baby’s health before, during, and after the baby is born in many ways.  Nicotine, carbon monoxide, and numerous other poisons/chemicals inhaled from a cigarette are carried through the bloodstream and go directly to the baby.  This increases many risks to baby and mom.  Research indicate that one risk from smoking during pregnancy is birth defects, these defects can including cleft lip, cleft palate, heart defects, etc.  Birth defects can occur during any stage of pregnancy.  Most birth defects occur in the first 3 months of pregnancy, when the organs of the baby are forming.
Since it is known that smoking is harmful to both baby and mom, women should stop smoking before they become pregnant, or as early as possible into the pregnancy to help avoid problems such as birth defects.  If smoking cessation help is needed to please call Ste. Genevieve County Health Department @ 573-883-7411 and ask for Diana.