Tobacco Smoke Harms Fetus
Lighting up while pregnant? Consider these facts from the American Lung Association.
- Smoking during pregnancy accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of low-birth weight babies, up to 14 percent of preterm deliveries and about 10 percent of all infant deaths.
- Maternal smoking also has been linked to asthma among infants and young children. The odds of developing asthma are twice as high among children whose mothers smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day.
- The most effective way to protect the fetus is to quit smoking. If a woman plans to conceive a child in the near future, quitting is essential. A woman who quits within the first three or four months of pregnancy can lower the chances of her baby being born premature or with health problems related to smoking.
- Since 1990, teenagers and young adults have had the highest rates of maternal smoking during pregnancy. In 2005, 16.6 percent of female teens aged 15-19 and 18.6 percent of women aged 20-24 smoked during pregnancy.
- Neonatal health-care costs attributable to maternal smoking in the U.S. have been estimated at $366 million per year, or $740 per maternal smoker.
Source: American Lung Association, www.lungusa.org
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Avoid Pesticides in Pregnancy
Pregnant women are trying to be healthier. Many take all the right steps to promote the birth of a healthy baby, including eating right, taking vitamins and eliminating alcohol and nicotine from their lives.
Unfortunately, all those efforts may be for naught if they are still being exposed to unseen chemicals in their daily lives. Dr. Doris Rapp, an experienced physician and expert on all the hidden household and environmental hazards, wants women to know about the many insidious and dangerous threats to their unborn babies. The harmful exposures can cause serious harm and damaging birth defects to babies in the womb, and they are right under our noses.
"One of the most dangerous groups of chemicals to pregnant women is known as PCBs," said Rapp, author of "32 Tips That Could Save Your Life" (www.dorisrappmd. com). "PCB stands for polychlorinated biphenyls, and they are commonly used in industrial pesticides. While they may not be in your house, they may exist in your office, your water or your food, especially if you live near the Great Lakes or consume seafood caught there. These chemicals pass through the placenta into the unborn, and some exposures have been known to cause devastating birth defects. These chemicals have also been found in the breast milk of women."
Her advice for women is to do all they can to avoid contact with these chemicals, starting before conception.
"Stay as far away as possible from pesticide-treated areas," Rapp said. "Do not eat pesticide-laden food or any fish from the Great Lakes. Try to eat only organic foods. Further, if your job requires you to be in contact with any chemicals or pesticides, insist that other tasks be given to you for the duration of your pregnancy. Half the battle is knowing these dangers exist, but the other half is being informed and conscientious enough to be able to avoid contact with these dangerous and toxic agents."
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Give Them a Hand
Parents understand how important hand washing is to their baby's health. Tara Williamson, a mom in California, decided to take matters into her own hands and created My Tiny Hands, an easy-to-use sign that hangs from virtually any car seat, stroller and baby carrier to remind people to "Please Wash" before touching the baby.
Here are five tips from Williamson for encouraging hand washing for those who want to hold the baby.
1. Keep a small bottle of sanitizer in your pocket and if someone asks to hold the baby, pull out the bottle and give them a little first. People don't usually protest and will hold out their hands.
2. Keep a large bottle of sanitizer handy at home, in social places like a family room or kitchen.
3. Tell people your pediatrician is concerned about something that is going around and insists that everyone wash their hands.
4. If a stranger tries to reach out and touch the baby, don't let them. Stand strong and make a move to prevent it.
5. And finally, just ask people to wash their hands. This is your child and you have the right to be protective Just say, "Sure thing, just go wash your hands and cuddle time with the baby is yours."