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Danger! Three kinds of smoke

July 28, 2012
By Barb Dorn - March of Dimes SW Division Director , Marshall Independent

You see the warnings on every pack of cigarettes, yet one in eight women in Lyon County admit to smoking while pregnant. In Redwood County, one in six women admit to smoking during their pregnancies. These statistics are according to the Minnesota Department of Health, and it's a proven fact that this behavior puts these babies at a greater risk for birth defects or even stillbirth.

The March of Dimes is here to remind women that the dangers of smoking while pregnant are very real, and that the sooner women quit smoking while pregnant, the healthier both they and their baby will be. So if you are pregnant, please do everything you can to refrain from smoking during this time.

Breathing in someone else's smoke, known as secondhand smoke, is also harmful. Secondhand smoke during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born low birthweight, among other complications. Babies and young children exposed to secondhand smoke are also:

more likely to die from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

at greater risk for asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and respiratory problems

susceptible to slower lung growth

Now new research shows that thirdhand smoke is yet another health hazard, particularly to pregnant women and their unborn children. Thirdhand smoke is made up of the toxic gases and particles left behind from cigarette or cigar smoking. These toxic remains, which include lead, arsenic and carbon monoxide, cling to things like clothes, hair, couches and carpets well after the smoke from a cigarette or cigar has cleared the room. That's why you often can tell a smoker by the smell that lingers on their clothing, in their home or in their vehicle.

These three kinds of smoke are all dangerous to unborn children, and for that reason expectant mothers should minimize their exposure to first, second, and thirdhand smoke whenever possible. Just taking a few precautionary steps could make a real difference in the outcome upon a baby's birth, so please keep these things in mind whether you're a smoker or not.

Finally, it's clear that the sooner women quit smoking during pregnancy, the healthier they and their baby will be. And, of course, it's best to quit smoking before getting pregnant, but if you're currently pregnant, this would be a great opportunity to kick the habit!

For tips on how to quit, and to learn more about how to have healthier babies and healthier mom, please visit



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