New research has found that 9 in 10 pregnant smokers are still addicted to cigarettes when their babies are born.
The research also found that of those mothers who managed to give up smoking in pregnancy, almost half picked the habit up again by the time their babies were six months old.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham and University of York in the UK revealed that only a minority of women who tried to stop smoking in pregnancy were successful in doing so, with 87% failing in their attempts to quit and were still smoking when their babies were born.
The findings were published in the scientific journal Addiction, the result of research compiled from 11 trials involving 571 pregnant women in the UK.
The researchers warn that women who take the habit up again are exposing their children to the health risks associated with passive smoking, and also increasing the likelihood their own children will become smokers.
They’ve also questioned whether the quit smoking services designed for pregnant women are effective.
Lead author, Dr Matthew Jones from the University of Nottingham, said “Our report reveals a wide gulf between what pregnant women need to quit smoking and what our healthcare services currently provide.”
In Australia, approximately 20% of women report they have smoked during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
There are a number of health risks posed by smoking during pregnancy, including a greater chance of premature birth, low birth weight, still birth and infant mortality. It can also affect the development of babies’ lungs, increasing the risk for many health problems.
Long-term health effects for children born to smoking mothers include allergies, higher blood pressure in childhood, respiratory disorders such as asthma and wheezing, and an increased risk of obesity.
Children of smokers also tend to have more ear infections, coughs and colds, and even tooth decay.
Babies exposed to second-hand smoke are at greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).