Air Pollution & Passive Smoking: What are their Possible Side Effects During Pregnancy?

As cities and countries generally strive for development, there are both positive and negative impacts witnessed by a common man. There is an increase in fuel consumption, purchase of private cars, factory establishment among others that increase the rate of air pollution in addition to chemical exposure.

Smoking is another deadly habit (havoc) that contributes to air and environmental pollution. Tobacco is the commonest used drug around the world and in 2015, the World Health Organization indicated that more than 1.1 billion individuals smoke tobacco around the world.

Smoking in India

Smoking is one of the commonest habits in India among youths, adults, and even the older. It is quite absurd that regardless of tobacco being among the major causes of premature deaths in the world, it is still publicly conducted. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India accounts for 12% of the world’s smoker population a rate that includes quite a good number of women.

Chewing tobacco, use of illegal drugs like cocaine, smoking cigars, and bidis are habits commonly depicted in the Indian society.

Our Pregnant Women & the Smoking Effects

It is quite exciting to finally learn that you are pregnant as it is one of the greatest things in the world for a woman. However, being pregnant requires effort to bring forth a healthy baby and as well have a safe delivery.

You will certainly get various restrictions from your fertility doctor and caretakers among which excludes smoking or passive smoking.

Any form of smoking increases a woman’s chance of infertility, complications during delivery, miscarriages, and breast cancer according to The California Environmental Protection Agency.

What’s the Difference Between Smoking & Passive Smoking?

Smoking is the deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from tobacco or any other drug, whereas passive smoking is the opposite, or in otherwise it is not deliberately done.

A pregnant woman is liable to become a passive smoker in case she commonly uses public transport means, has a husband who smokes, work in bars or nightclubs, or around people who smoke.

It is very unfortunate that the effects of secondhand smoking are more deadly than expected.

How Smoking Impacts the Environment?

Apart from motor vehicle pollution, smoking comes as the next form of environmental pollution that impacts the quality of air that we breathe. All these increase the circulation of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, dust and other deadly chemicals that reduce our quality of health and general life.

Effects of Air Pollution & Smoke on Pregnant Women

Researchers stress various serious side effects of air pollution and smoke to pregnant women among which include;

  • Infertility

Fertility experts explain that women who smoke have higher chances of facing various infertility issues such as premature ovarian failure, miscarriages, and reduced chances of natural conception. Though camouflage, air pollution is another reason for the escalating infertility cases.

  • Risk of Asthma

For decades, air pollution is a known cause of asthma in individuals. In pregnant women, asthma can lead to preeclampsia, a condition that results in elevated blood pressure and a reduced liver and kidney function.

Pregnant women who are exposed to smoke or any form of air pollution may limit oxygen availability to the growing fetus or cause their babies to be born with asthma.

  • Low Birth Weight

This is also a notable side effect of smoking and air pollution as smoking limits oxygen supply to the baby, affects a woman’s overall health as well as that of the baby, and reduces nutrients for the fetus development.

  • Autism

Autism is a mental disorder that affects the child’s communication and interaction abilities. A study at Harvard confirmed that women exposed high particulate matter pollution during the third trimester have twice the chances of giving birth to a child with autism.

  • Preterm Birth

More than three million babies are born prematurely each year, according to a study by The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York and this results from air pollution.

Studies indicate that babies born before term have higher chances of developing neurological disorders and physical disabilities.

  • Miscarriages

Though miscarriages occur in women who don’t smoke at all, women undergoing IVF treatment are more likely to suffer from miscarriages in the case exposed to secondhand smoke or stay in air polluted regions. According to a 2014 meta-analysis, it was found that maternal passive smoking increased the risk of miscarriages by 11%.

How to Combat Air Pollution & Smoke Effects

At Sofat Infertility centre, a leading IVF centre in India, there are numerous tips provided to a couple to protect a pregnant woman’s health, bring forth a healthy baby, and have a safe delivery.

  • Limit Outdoor Movements

Staying indoors is vital, but in case you are to move out, make sure that it is for a purpose. This also requires you to opt for private transport means rather than using public means that increases your exposure to polluted air.

  • Plant more Green Flowers & Trees

Plants are associated with a process known as photosynthesis. During this process, they absorb the carbon dioxide and other chemicals in the air and then release oxygen that we breathe in. Having a variety of natural green plants in and outside your home helps in air purification, which eliminates polluted air in your region.

  • Opt for Safe Zones

Cities, factory regions, trade centres, manufacturing areas, power plants have the highest rate of air pollution. Prior to settling into any region, first look at the air quality index.

  • Air Purifiers

Air purifiers are a bit costly to a majority of families, but buying at least one for your home will significantly improve your life quality. These air purifiers aid in evicting air impurities.

  • Diet Approaches

Seafood is generally recommended for pregnant women and young children, according to the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, however, choose low-mercury fish, such as salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, herring, and catfish.

Women facing infertility issues are ideally recommended to reduce fish intake as this may also increase one’s IVF cost in India due to failed treatment cycles.