Nicotine and drugs can affect a fetus by entering into the bloodstream of the unborn child. While you are pregnant, almost everything you eat, drink or smoke passes through your body to your baby. That is why drugs taken during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby. The word "drugs" doesn't only mean illegal drugs. It also means legal drugs and prescription and over-the-counter medicines. The use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs during pregnancy continues to be a leading preventable cause of mental, physical, and psychological impairments and problems in infants and children. A developing fetus really is a part of its mother, sharing oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord and across the fluid-filled bubble known as the placenta. It was once thought the placenta as a natural filter, shielding the fetus from external harm. Today, we know that virtually everything in a woman's bloodstream passes through to the developing organs of the fetus. Since a fetus can't remove harmful substances on its own, all the drugs a woman uses during pregnancy stay in its body longer than they do in mom's -- and at higher, more toxic levels.
Main risks of smoking during pregnancy include:
Delayed Growth. The more a woman smokes, the less her baby grows. Twice as many babies weighing less than 5 pounds are born to smokers as to nonsmokers. Premature Birth: Pregnant smokers are more likely to suffer bleeding, damage to the placenta, and other problems that trigger early birth. Infant Death: Smoking is a direct cause of miscarriage, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome (crib death). Some experts say infant death rates rise by 20-35 percent among smoking mothers. Childhood Disease: Many researchers think that childhood leukemia and other cancers can be traced to tobacco exposure before birth.
Heavy alcohol consumption by a pregnant woman can result in her child being born with fetal alcohol...