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Dangers of Smoking and Drinking During Pregnancy

Dangers of Smoking and Drinking During Pregnancy

Research reveals that an alarming number of women smoke and drink during pregnancy.

You may have been shocked to hear that supermodel Kate Moss and ex-Atomic Kitten Kerry Katona admitted to smoking while pregnant. Or that Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's "drank daily" while pregnant, admitting, “I didn’t really pay attention to what other people said.”

But even more shocking is the news that eight percent of pregnant women in the US smoke cigarettes and almost four percent smoke e-cigs, according to a survey published in JAMA Pediatrics. So, during the six million pregnancies (around four million live births) in the US annually, 320,000 women are smoking cigarettes and 144,000 are vaping. Cigarettes increase the risk of preterm birth, birth defects (cleft lip or cleft palate) and infant death. And vaping is toxic because of heavy metals in some liquids, not to mention nicotine.

But there’s more: 12 percent of pregnant women admit to drinking and four percent admit to binge drinking (four+ drinks) within the past month, according to info published in MMWR. International research finds that ANY prenatal exposure to alcohol is definitively connected to impaired cognitive abilities and related problems in teens. The CDC cautions: “All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including beer and wine... They cause… lifelong physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities.”

Best bet? Stop drinking and smoking before becoming pregnant. But, it’s never too late to do the right thing. For smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or go to my.clevelandclinic.org; search for quitting smoking. For alcohol abuse, search for preconception counseling at my.clevelandclinic.org or find a local 12-step program at www.mentalhelp.net/meeting-finder.

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