Smoking tobacco of any kind or drinking alcohol during pregnancy is dangerous. Smoking robs your developing baby of oxygen and can cause developmental abnormalities, premature birth, miscarriage, and low birthweight. Babies born to mothers who smoked while pregnant have more colds, ear infections, and upper respiratory infections than babies with nonsmoking mothers. They also have a greater risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
If you smoke, now is the time to stop. Ask your doctor about smoking-cessation resources in your area. If you can't quit completely, cut down as much as possible; keep in mind that even a few cigarettes a day can potentially harm your baby. If your partner or other family members smoke, ask them to quit or to smoke outdoors in a place where you won't be exposed to the smoke. Research shows that even secondhand smoke can be harmful to a developing fetus.
Now is also the time to stop drinking. Alcohol can cause your baby to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome, which is characterized by mental retardation, growth restriction, and facial abnormalities. Alcohol is particularly dangerous to your fetus during the 1st and 2nd trimesters, when the baby's organs are developing. If you can't stop drinking, seek help immediately.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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