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Study says drinking and smoking during pregnancy can put newborns in danger
Posted in Addiction, Alcohol Rehab, Pregnancy - 3 Comments

Study says drinking and smoking during pregnancy can put newborns in danger

Even low levels of drinking and smoking during pregnancy can slow fetal development, cause severe harm and in some cases, even death of the fetus, found a recent study conducted by the researchers at the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The combined effect of drinking and smoking during pregnancy increased the risk of stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), said the researchers.

The Safe Passage Study was conducted simultaneously in South Africa and America on around 12,000 pregnant women between 2007 and 2015. Data on the smoking and drinking behavior of these women was collected and then analyzed with their pregnancy outcomes. The researchers discovered that:

  1. Women who consumed alcohol and smoked during their pregnancies were three-times at a higher risk of stillbirth compared to those who did not.
  2. The blood flow in the uterine and umbilical arteries was lower in women who drank and smoked during their pregnancies. This was observed as early as 20–24 weeks of gestation.
  3. Smoking was found to be linked with the risk of placental insufficiency, a complication in which the placenta was unable to supply enough nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and was thus, unable to support the developing baby.
  4. The risk of stillbirth was higher among women who continued smoking and drinking even after the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy.

High SIDS risk found among study sample

According to the researchers, there was 12 times higher risk of SIDS among women who smoked and drank during her pregnancy. In cases, where the pregnant women only drank, the risk of SIDS increased four times and in cases where the women only smoked, the risk was multiplied by five-times. Lead author of the South African chapter of the study Dr Hein Odendaal from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stellenbosch’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Science (FMHS), said that this was the first-ever study to show that combining the risk factors of smoking and drinking “strengthened” the risk of stillbirths and SIDS. The main causes of stillbirth in South Africa were preterm birth and placental abruption and both these increased in women who drank and smoked during their pregnancies.

The study also observed that more and more women were smoking and drinking during their pregnancies. Almost 49 percent women smoked at some stage during their pregnancy while almost 33 percent continued smoking throughout their pregnancy. Further, more than half of the women observed (52.3 percent) used alcohol at some time during their pregnancy while 17 percent continued drinking throughout their pregnancy.

Seeking treatment for alcohol addiction

Whatever be the reason prompting one to start drinking, the short- and long-term effects of the same cannot be ignored. Drinking or smoking, especially during pregnancy, does no good to the health of the mother as well as the child. It leads to increased risk of developmental, cognitive and behavioral problems, among others.

It is, therefore, important for a woman to stay away from any such habits especially during her pregnancy. In case, a woman is planning a pregnancy, but is addicted to alcohol and is looking for facilities offering alcohol treatment for women, Sovereign Health can help. Call us at our 24/7 helpline or chat online with a representative to get in touch with some of the best drug and alcohol abuse centers offering women only alcohol program to enable one’s recovery.

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