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I have smoked cigarettes for most of my life and can’t see how I will be able to give up now that I am expecting. Is it really so important?

There are about a thousand reasons why it is completely essential that you give up smoking, not only for your own health but also for the health of your baby. This is a huge issue because giving up is so very difficult. But aside from the health of your baby, healthy parents will be of great value to your child.

During pregnancy smoking can reduce the amount of oxygen available to the baby. This is also the case during the birth. Babies born to smoking mothers are on average smaller. The risk of premature labour is also increased. These risks were considerably reduced when the mother gave up smoking early in the pregnancy. After the birth, nicotine is passed onto the baby in breastmilk.

Research has shown a clear link between smoking and such issues as SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and baby health. It seems that being constantly exposed to smoke particles has a profound effect on the system of a small growing baby. And even when the parents tried to shield the baby by not smoking nearby, the health risks were hardly diminished at all. The health risks are increased by increasing amounts of smoke, for example if more than one person in the house smokes.

Children of smokers get sick easily. They stay sick for longer. They have an increased risk of lung and ear infections of all kinds. They are at an increased risk of hospitalization during the first few years of life. They suffer from a higher incidence of tooth decay in childhood. Children of smokers are also more likely to smoke themselves.

All these factors add up to one conclusion – you should give up smoking. It won’t be easy. Our sympathies are with you. But it’s the right thing to do!

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