For decades, pregnant women have been warned of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy, but a new American Heart Association study now provides even more compelling evidence for expectant mothers to kick the habit.
The study indicates smoking during pregnancy reduces the production of nitric oxide, restricting blood flow to the fetus. That leads to lower birth weight, shorter length and smaller head circumference.
Researchers also found if the expectant mother quits smoking early in pregnancy, the enzyme producing nitric oxide returns to normal levels, and the infant is born at normal birth weight.
The study showed newborns of mothers who smoked had reduced activity and 18 percent lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—or “good” cholesterol.
Quitting smoking is especially important for expectant mothers, but stopping smoking offers these benefits to everyone:
* Immediately—Blood circulation increases, blood pressure and heart rate quickly improve and the carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in the blood soon return to normal.
* Within a few days—Breathing becomes easier, and the senses of smell and taste improve.
* Within two to three months—Lung function improves up to 30 percent.
* One year after quitting—The risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 percent.
* Five to 15 years later—The risk of stroke is similar to that of a nonsmoker.
* Ten years later—The risk of developing lung cancer is 30 to 50 percent lower than that of a person continuing to smoke.
* 15 years later—The additional risk of heart disease is the same as someone who never smoked.
Class for quitters to begin April 9
Western Baptist Hospital co-sponsors Cooper-Clayton Method to Stop Smoking classes with the Kentucky Cancer Program. The 13-week course is free, but reservations are required. The next series begins April 9 at Western Baptist. To register or for more information, phone (270) 442-1310.
Western Baptist offers many resources for expecting families, including childbirth classes, StorkSmart (quarterly program featuring tours and information) and StorkLine, an all-R.N. hotline, to answer your pregnancy and parenting questions. For more information, phone (270) 575-BABY (2229) or visit westernbaptist.com.
Heart disease information
To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms and treatment for heart disease, visit Western Baptist’s newly re-designed Web site at westernbaptist.com/heart. You can take a free, five-minute online heart risk survey and become eligible for reduced-cost cardiac screenings at Baptist Prime Care. You also may phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918.