Alcohol, Cigarettes and My Baby..

As we all know, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking cigarettes are not healthy habits. But during pregnancy, smoking and drinking can cause quite harm to you and your unborn child. Both substances have been associated with numerous adverse effects. Let’s review some of the risks.

Maternal smoking during pregnancy is linked to a premature birth. It also increases the chances for experiencing a miscarriage. Cigarette smoking, including e-cigarettes, can cause damage to the placenta – the source for the embryo’s food and oxygen. The placenta can detach from the womb prematurely and bleed (a condition called placental abruption), which poses much risk to both mother and child.  Intrauterine growth restriction and Low birth weight is also an adverse outcome.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (Lieberman E, Gremy I, Lang JM, Cohen AP, American Journal of Public Health), “Low birth weight (ie, LBW, <2500 grams) is the best-studied complication of smoking and/or being exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy. Women who smoke are 1.5 to 3.5 times more likely to have a LBW infant. The risk increases with increasing cigarette consumption. Birth weight is influenced greatly by gestational age at delivery, and smoking modestly increases the risk of preterm delivery. However, the effect of smoking on birth weight cannot be explained solely by earlier gestational age at delivery. Smokers have an increased risk of a small for gestational age (SGA) infant with relative risks ranging from 1.3 to 10.” 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is far more common among newborns whose mother smoke cigarettes during and after delivery.

Heavy alcohol drinking increases the risk for a child born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Some infants may develop learning disabilities, speech difficulties, small head size and other health issues.

Due to the conflicting reports on the amount of alcohol for pregnant women, the CDC, U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics say pregnant women should not drink any alcohol to avoid all risks.  

According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, “A safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has not been determined. Assessing the impact of alcohol on fetal development is challenging because of variations in maternal alcohol clearance rates, fetal developmental sensitivity, genetic susceptibility, drinking pattern (eg, binge versus daily consumption), and confounders such as polysubstance use. As alcohol is a teratogen that impacts fetal growth and development at all stages of pregnancy, national guidelines and medical societies from multiple countries recommend complete abstinence during pregnancy.”

Pregnant or not, excessive alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are not beneficial.  I always discuss the importance of TIMING during pregnancy and it’s potential impact on the developing fetus.  I remind everyone that the environment plays a crucial role on how our genes function. Remember that the structure of the DNA can not be changed but the FUNCTION can change depending one’s exposure to its environment!

As I mention in other blogs, the key to living a healthy life is by doing things that make SENSE. This approach will reduce chronic inflammation and hopefully provide a healthy signal for important genes to turn on or off.  By living the SENSE model of life, you will keep the doctor away!

Sleep helps the body to combat diseases. Insomnia often aggravates stress and negative emotions.

Exercise and weight management can reduce our risk for heart disease and diabetes. From cardiovascular to yoga, exercise is paramount.

Nutrition is a significant environmental factor. It is recommended to consume foods such as green vegetables like peas and broccoli. Load your diet with nuts, fruits and vegetables!

Stress-reduction – Take some time to relax and unwind. High levels of stress are never beneficial.

Positive Emotions – Positive thinking and changing our perception provides healing. This is also self-preserving!

Disclaimer
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before making any health, medical or other decisions based upon the data contained herein. Information provided is for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professionals.

Sean Daneshmand MD

Sean S. Daneshmand, M.D. is one of the busiest and most caring people you may ever meet. As the founder of the charity, Miracle Babies, as well as a full-time doctor, father, husband and business owner, it is hard to believe that he sleeps at all—or perhaps, he has found a portal to the 36-hour day. Dr. Daneshmand is a perinatologist (high-risk obstetrician) whose expertise includes obstetric and surgical management of invasive placentation, care of pregnancies following in-vitro fertilization, and management of maternal medical problems during pregnancy at the San Diego Perinatal Center. He was recognized by CNN, in their CNN Heroes segment, for his work with Miracle Babies and his dedication to his patients.