Women and tobacco

Smoking among women has steadily increased over the past 20 years.

Over a 15 year period, the risk of death can be reduced by 50% by stopping smoking before the age of 50.

In women, tobacco causes :
  • Irregular hormonal cycles and often more painful menstruation periods.
  • It decreases fertility and reduces the chances of conceiving. Women who smoke take twice as long to become pregnant as non-smokers.
  • The risk of failure for IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) treatment is 4 times greater for women smokers.
  • The risk of getting lung, uterus, cervix and breast cancer is increased.
  • The onset of the menopause is advanced.
  • Being a smoker and taking the contraceptive pill increases your cardiovascular risks.
  • The risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) , blood clotting in the veins, is greatly increased in a woman over 40 years and taking the contraceptive pill.

Smoking and pregnancy

  • The risks of having a spontaneous miscarriage is multiplied 3 times for smokers compared to non-smokers. It can be higher for heavy smokers who consume more than one packet a day.
  • Smoking is the most common cause of premature births .
  • You increase the risk of stillbirth by 50% if you smoke.
  • The risk of having an ectopic pregnancy is increased by 50% if you smoke.

Smoking and the consequences during pregnancy

Smoking during the pregnancy compromises the health of the mother to be and the development of the unborn baby.

The consequences of smoking during pregnancy are many :
  • Nicotine passes through the placenta and is absorbed by the baby, it is what is known as "in-utero" passive smoking .
  • Carbon monoxide from the cigarette smoke passes into the blood of the baby and can partially deprive the baby of oxygen
  • The passage of carbon monoxide into the blood of the baby causes
    • Slow growth and development of the baby of at least 200 grams.
    • A decrease in the baby's height and skull circumference.
    • The risk of the baby having a low birth weight approximately less than 2.5 kg. This is twice as high for women smokers.
    • A low birth weight can expose the newborn to possible complications.
    • Babies who were in contact to tobacco smoke during the pregnancy of the mother are more likely to become smokers themselves and to take up smoking from an early age.

When a mother to be smokes during pregnancy, the risk of Sudden-Death Syndrome occurring is multiplied by a factor of three.

It is always best to stop smoking during pregnancy. Quitting is a sure way of reducing the risks for the mother as well as for the child. Seek help as nicotine replacement product can be prescribed under medical supervision.

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