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Smoking, Drinking and Drugs

I have been a chain smoker for many years, how will it affect my baby

There is no evidence to prove that smoking before getting pregnant has any harmful effects on the baby.  However, heavy smoking during pregnancy, especially after the fourth month, could lead to miscarriages, premature and undersized babies, infant deaths, and physically and mentally deficient children.  It is therefore recommended that mothers quit cigarette smoking as soon as possible.  If you are already 9 months pregnant and have still not stopped smoking, you should do so immediately, to preserve oxygen flow to the baby.   Note that there have also been instances where chain smokers have delivered perfectly healthy babies, but the odds are certainly stacked against them.

Is passive smoking also harmful to the baby

Although not as harmful as direct smoking, passive smoking,  (i.e. inhaling smoke when others smoke) is also harmful to the unborn child.  It is therefore advisable to stay away from smoke-filled areas.

What effect will alcoholic drinks have on my baby

Contrary to popular belief, a few drinks during pregnancy generally cause no harm to the baby.  However, heavy drinking (5-6 drinks each time) during pregnancy can lead to serious complications.  Babies born to alcoholic mothers could be undersized, be mentally deficient, and have deformities of the head, limbs, heart, nervous system, etc.  Therefore, controlling your alcohol intake during pregnancy is essential.

I have been taking illicit drugs, will it affect my baby

Drug use prior to getting pregnant, seems to pose almost no risk to the baby.   Since the risk, however, increases with the progress of the pregnancy, if you are already pregnant, it is important to stop using any illicit drugs.  Marijuana use, even as infrequently as once a month during pregnancy, could lead to inadequate weight gain for the mother, severe vomiting bouts, complications during delivery and an undersized baby.  Similarly, cocaine use could also result in miscarriages, premature delivery, infant death, and many other complications.  Even an occasional use during the third trimester could trigger contractions and fetal distress.

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