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Free Example of Tobacco Exposure during Pregnancy Essay

Tobacco smoking among pregnant mothers can result in serious problems during pregnancy. Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes put their unborn babies and themselves at risk of developing serious health problems. Study shows that between twelve to twenty percent of women smoking cigarettes put their health and that of the fetus at risk. This paper looks at the effects of tobacco use and exposure during pregnancy.

Maternal tobacco exposure affects the prenatal development and cognitive functioning and behavior of the infant. There are two ingredients of cigarette smoke that affect the growth of the fetus. These are nicotine as well as carbon monoxide. Normally, carbon monoxide results in reducing the amount of oxygen available to the fetus whereas nicotine constricts the uterine arteries, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen flowing across the placenta (Fried & Oxorn, 1980). There are other constituents of the tobacco smoke such as cadmium and toluene that contribute to the fetal growth retardation.

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Pregnant women engaging in smoking are always at a high risk of having a miscarriage. Cigarette smoking is also associated with premature births and still births. These premature babies have problems because they are not fully developed at birth. It may result in bleedings in the brain and breathing difficulties making the babies prone to infections. These premature babies in most cases do not survive and if they do, they develop lifelong problems such as blindness and developmental, intellectual and learning problems. Asthma and other respiratory infections among children are associated with mothers smoking during pregnancy (Mueller, 1994).

Cigarette smoking results in serious health conditions such as cancer, heart stroke, and gum diseases. Smoking results in eye diseases among infants that can later develop and lead to blindness. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to develop ectopic pregnancy and to have placental abruption and vaginal breeding.

Long-term smoking among pregnant women puts the health of the fetus at a risk. Babies born to such mothers have lung problems, are prone to colds, experience physical growth problems, and have learning disabilities. When a woman continues smoking even after giving birth, the child is usually at a risk of developing more colds, coughs, and respiratory infections. Smoking makes it hard for those children to breathe properly. Mostly, babies born to smoking mothers tend to have small lungs. Hence, they experience difficulties with breathing. In severe cases, it results in pneumonia and bronchitis.

Tobacco smoking reduces the chances of a woman getting pregnant. Those infants born by mothers who are smokers have a low birth weight. The birth weight decreases depending on the number of cigarettes that a pregnant mother has consumed. Children of smokers are between one hundred and fifty grams to two hundred and fifty grams lighter compared to those children whose mothers do not smoke. It is a result of the growth retardation that reduces the infants’ weight.

Secondhand smoke is the phenomenon when someone else’s cigarette smoke is inhaled. During pregnancy, secondhand smoke is harmful to the fetus and infants are likely to die of the sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and respiratory infections. Secondhand smoke also results in the slow lung growth among children.

Third-hand smoke is a health hazard to the babies and young children. Third-hand smoke contains toxic particles and gases left after smoking a cigarette. The toxic remains include carbon monoxide, lead, and arsenic. These toxins continue to build up with time. These toxins cling to hair, carpets, furniture, and clothes. When infants breathe in these toxic gases and particles, they may develop adverse health effects like asthma, cancer, breathing problems, and learning disorders. Therefore, it is important for infants to avoid places that are exposed to cigarette smoking. Young children are very susceptible to any levels of toxins because their brains are still developing (Oaks, 2001). Children are small in size. Hence, they are close to the areas where these toxins are absorbed, for instance, to the carpet, floor, and furniture. Thus, they are more likely to put their mouths on such surfaces. Pregnant women should always avoid places where cigarette smoking occurs.

At birth, the length and head and chest circumferences are less in size among infants who are prenatally exposed to tobacco. The body composition of neonates who are exposed to tobacco normally has less fat-free mass.

During the teenage pregnancy, the prenatal tobacco exposure has more significant effects compared to adult mothers and their children. Infants of teenagers who smoke have a reduced birth length, birth weight, chest circumference, and head circumference compared to infants of adult mothers. Infants of adult mothers who are exposed to tobacco have a reduced birth weight of one hundred and fifty eight grams in comparison with teenage mother’s infants who have a reduced birth weight of two hundred and two grams.

There are problems associated with young maternal age coupled with an increase in the prevalence of teenagers who smoke. It magnifies the risks to which children of smoking pregnant teenagers are exposed. The male fetus is more affected than the female one by the tobacco exposure. Male children born to smokers have a greater weight reduction and a small head circumference when compared to girls who are born to a smoking mother.

Tobacco smoking is associated with obesity among infants. After pregnancy, smoking mothers opt to use bottle-feeding rather than breastfeeding their newborns. Hence, tobacco smoking has effects both on the body length and body weight.

According to Espy et al. (2011), prenatal exposure to tobacco of infants has negative effects on the central nervous system. It results in increased tremors and startles among children. Cognitive functioning among children whose mothers have never smoked is higher compared to children who have been exposed to the cigarette smoke as infants. Children who have been exposed to the cigarette smoke as infants have poor language development and low cognitive development. At an advanced age of about ten years, children exposed to cigarette smoke as infants have poor reading abilities.

There are many pregnant women who do not smoke, but they put their fetus at a risk of developing complications associated with smoking. When pregnant women who do not smoke spend their time with smoking people, they put the health of their unborn babies at risk since the cigarette smoke reaches the fetus as secondhand smoke. Women get pregnant, yet spending most of their time with cigarette smokers, they give birth to infants who are sixty one grams lighter.

Ethnicity, age, and class play a major role in the dissemination and design of marketing strategies in the tobacco industry. Tobacco control policies should take into account gender norms in order to enhance the health of both women and men. Smoking results in cancer, especially in lung cancer, stroke, and other lungs and chest diseases.

When a pregnant woman smokes during pregnancy, she has difficulties with labor, delivery, and even breastfeeding. Low birth weights and negative long-term health effects are also the result of the tobacco use among pregnant women.

Cigarette smoking among pregnant women is less likely to reduce during pregnancy. After giving birth, smoking mothers are more likely to continue their smoking behaviors, hence continuously exposing their infants to tobacco related complications. Children who are exposed to tobacco at a prenatal stage are at a higher risk of further continuous exposure from the mother and the third-hand smoke. Cigarette smoking affects reproductive systems of both males and females. Smoking cigarettes involves the inhalation of nicotine, which results in the erectile dysfunction among males (Oaks, 2001).

Smoking of pregnant mothers has severe negative health effects on the cognitive development and the growth of the exposed child. Pregnant mothers who do not smoke can also put their unborn babies at risk through the environmental cigarette smoke exposure. The prenatal cigarette smoke exposure is associated with the reduced weight, head circumference, and reduced height at birth.

Children prenatally exposed to the cigarette smoke have cognitive deficits in reading skills, language, performance on tests, and memory. Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke is associated with very high chance of being involved into criminal activities in the adolescent age and adulthood.

A shared genetic component between a smoking mother and an infant can represent vulnerability to characteristics that are associated with tobacco smoking. Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoking is likely to result in a more impulsive offspring. If impulsive women are likely to indulge in smoking, they produce infants who are more impulsive.

Prenatal nicotine affects the central nervous system that influences the offspring. Changing the central nervous system leads to cognitive and behavioral problems linked to the prenatal exposure to cigarette smoking.

Quitting smoking by all women, both by those who are pregnant and those who are not, is essential for ensuring that the fetus gets enough oxygen and for minimizing the chances of having a miscarriage. Continued cigarette smoking increases the chances of the infant and mother developing stroke, cancer, and other heart related diseases. Smoking cigarettes results in the lowered fertility among both men and women with pregnant women increasing the chances of morbidity among their unborn babies and themselves (Mueller, 1994). The white race of women has the largest number of smokers during pregnancy as compared to other races. Awareness of the age and racial differences concerning the smoking of cigarettes among pregnant women will be useful for physicians as it will enable to identify how the health of both the mother and the fetus can be protected.

Secondhand smoke resulting from breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke fumes  by pregnant women leads to giving birth of children who weigh less than the ones who are not exposed to the smoke fumes. Tobacco smoking among the pregnant women is the major factor that contributes to birth defects, mental retardation, and problems with the central nervous system among infants. Infants who are around people who smoke cigarettes are more prone to develop asthma and ear infections unlike babies who are not exposed to cigarette fumes (Fried & Oxorn, 1980).

There are measures that have been proposed to help pregnant women quit smoking in order to safeguard their health and that of the fetus. Pregnant women are requested to determine negative consequences associated with cigarette smoking concerning the health of their unborn babies and their health. Change of habits among smoking pregnant women is recommended when instead of smoking after an activity or a meal, she can look for alternatives activity such as eating snacks, taking a walk, or reading a favorite article about pregnancy. A support group of other pregnant women who do not smoke will help the pregnant woman quit smoking. The support group can comprise of members of the family or friends who do not smoke. Seeking help from a health expert will help a pregnant woman quit smoking as the health practitioner can prescribe aids that might contain nicotine. This nicotine is what smokers crave for, but in this case the nicotine and its level will only help the growth and development of the fetus.

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