How smoking can affect a pregnancy
My son and his girlfriend started smoking in high school, and all their friends smoke. They have all tried unsuccessfully to stop.
He and his girlfriend are talking about a future together and starting a family, and my concern is that their addiction and lifestyle can harm a developing fetus. Is there any information that addresses the harm smoking does to the prospective parents and unborn children?
A FRUSTRATED PARENT
Tobacco addiction is probably the toughest to break, but you have tapped into a great incentive: having healthy children. Informing yourself first makes good sense. There has been good research about this which you can find at your local library or on the Internet. For example, the following is taken from a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) web page (www.cdc.gov/to
The nicotine in cigarettes may cause constrictions in blood vessels of the umbilical cord and uterus and thereby decrease the amount of oxygen available to the fetus.
Babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy have lower birth weights, a leading cause of infant deaths.
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications, premature delivery, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome.
The good news is women who quit before becoming pregnant reduce many of these risks to that of women who've never smoked.
This brings us to quitting. Inform yourself, and get your information together in an easy-to-read form. (Local health clinics or the American Cancer Society have good pamphlets available.)
Then talk to your son and his girlfriend. You might say something like: ``I love you two and I would be so happy if you decide to have children. I know you have to run your lives the way you want, but I can't sit by and say nothing. I want you around a long time. I know smoking is really harmful to you, and it can really affect your children. Let me just show you some information. We don't have to talk about it now. I just want you to think about it. If you decide to quit, you know I'll help you any way I can.''
End with something like: ``I just don't want to see anything happen to you or to any children you may have because I love you. This is just because I care, not because I want to interfere.''
Beth can be reached at email@example.com.
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