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Pregnant Asthmatic Women Who Smoke Create Dangerous Complications

Update Date: Sep 05, 2013 03:07 PM EDT
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During a nine-month long pregnancy, certain complications could arise that would jeopardize the health of both mother and unborn child. For example, women might develop gestational diabetes if they do not want their food intake and activity level. In order for women to go through pregnancy with as few complications as possible, particularly for women who might be high-risk, it is important to take preventative measures. In a new study, researchers found that when women with asthma chose to smoke during pregnancy, they create a very dangerous situation for themselves and their unborn baby.

"We know that being pregnant and having asthma poses risks to both mother and the baby. We know that smoking poses risks to both the mother and the baby. But now we also know that the combination of these conditions represents a very dangerous situation," the lead author, Dr. Nicolette Hodyl stated during National Asthma Week.

The researchers from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute decided to look at the effects of smoking for asthmatic pregnant women. This study, which is the first of its kind, looked at over 170,000 women living in South Australia over the time span of 10 years. The researchers knew that asthma and smoking leads to an increased risk of bleeding in the birth canal before labor, urinary tract infections, low birth weight, premature birth and premature rupture of membrane on their own. When combined, the researchers reasoned that the risks involved would be even greater.

"For asthmatic women, the preterm birth rate increased to 6.5 percent. Among smoking women, 9.4 percent experienced preterm birth. And for asthmatic women who also smoked, the rate of preterm birth jumped to 12.7 percent, which is more than double the normal rate," Hodyl said according to Medical Xpress. "This is an alarming statistic. We hope that pregnant women begin to understand the seriousness of this situation to their health and the health of their child."

The researchers also reported that around one-fourth of pregnant women who have asthma choose to smoke during pregnancy. This statistic is also very worrisome because of the potential risks involved for both mother and child. The researchers stressed that quitting during pregnancy would yield benefits for both the mother and her baby. Although cutting cold turkey would be extremely difficult, it is a task that pregnant women should try to accomplish for the sake of their baby.

"Quitting smoking during pregnancy is very difficult, and therefore pregnant women need as much support as possible from family, friends and health professionals. Our results show that even a reduction in the number of cigarettes women smoke per day can lead to some improvement to the risks to their child. However, the potential for poor health outcomes for both the mother and child should not be underestimated," the authors wrote.

The study was published in the European Respiratory Journal

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