Alcohol & Smoking

Pregnancy is a period of time, when the expectant mother has to take care of herself and her baby to ensure good health. Smoking, drugs and alcohol must not be consumed during pregnancy. In the first and last trimester, these may cause irreparable damage to the baby.

Effect of Smoking.
Smoking during pregnancy is harmful, especially during the first three months. Some of the side effects observed in the child due to maternal smoking are:

  • Congenital heart abnormalities
  • Small for date babies or premature birth
  • Still birth
  • Intellectual impairment
  • Attention deficit, hyperactivity and behavioral disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • MAS (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome) where newborn has greenish, sticky liquid in his intestines due to inhalation of amniotic fluid.

Besides active smoking, even passive smoking is dangerous during pregnancy. The mother-to-be should therefore ensure that she is not around the people who smoke, as far as possible.

Effect of alcohol.
Women who are chronic alcoholics have irregular menstruation due to the liver damage. Pregnancy in such cases is less likely to occur. Even modest consumption of alcohol (2-4 drinks per week) may lead to miscarriage.

The most common and dangerous condition caused due to alcohol consumption is called Fetal Alcoholic Syndrome(FAS). In this, the baby is born severely malformed and is mentally impaired. Defects are found in the heart, lungs and limbs. Other side effects found due to  heavy maternal consumption of alcohol are:

  • Increased susceptibility for ear infections
  • Brain damage leading to mental retardation
  • Low birth weight
  • Difficulty in coordination
  • Facial deformities.