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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Smoking and Your Unborn Child

Smoking is clearly linked to heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease, lung cancer, other cancers, and a host of other unpleasant and chronic conditions. But sometimes we need to remember that we are not the only victims of our bad habits.

A 2009 study from Cardiff University in Wales, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, evaluated nearly 6,500 12-year-olds, including information regarding their birth mothers’ habits during pregnancy. About 19 percent of the moms smoked while pregnant. Tragically, smoking—especially during the third trimester—appeared to increase the likelihood of psychiatric illness, including psychosis, by about 20 percent. The more cigarettes a woman smoked, the more likely her child was to be affected.

Other studies have found a link between tobacco exposure during pregnancy and criminal behavior. Birth defects, including cleft palates and holes in the heart, are also more common in the offspring of moms who smoke. After delivery, sudden infant death syndrome occurs more often in smoking households. Being the child of smoking parents means a higher risk of cancer and heart disease in adulthood, even for people who never smoke.

Smoking benefits no one but the tobacco companies and their shareholders. It can have tragic consequences not only for the smoker, but also for his or her family. If you’re a smoker, ask your doctor for help in quitting. Try nicotine patches or even hypnotherapy. Do what it takes to become tobacco free, for yourself and for those you love.

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Tags: Kids' Heart Health , Tobacco , Women and Heart Health

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.