Home Health & Food Smoking during pregnancy increases risk of cleft lip, palate in babies, psychiatrist warns

Smoking during pregnancy increases risk of cleft lip, palate in babies, psychiatrist warns

by James Davies


Angela Onwuzoo

Women who smoke while pregnant are at risk of giving birth to babies with cleft lip and palate, a mental health expert, Dr. Sunday Amosu has warned.

Dr. Amosu who is a Consultant Psychiatrist, Drug Abuse Unit, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State, said smoking during pregnancy could also lead to sudden respiratory distress and death of infants.

According to the psychiatrist, pregnant women need to be careful because even those who are passive smokers are also prone to these problems.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, Dr. Amosu stressed that women who smoke are particularly at risk of giving birth to babies with defects.

He stated that available statistics show that about one out of every 10 Nigerians currently smoke cigarettes.

He advised pregnant women to stay away from tobacco use, warning that babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are also prone to suffering from repeated pneumonia within one year of their birth.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with an orofacial cleft than women who do not smoke.

Again, the CDC said women with diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy equally have an increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate, compared to women who did not have diabetes.

 The psychiatrist said, “There are 1.1 billion smokers worldwide and 80 per cent of them are in the low and middle-income countries including Nigeria. 

“Women who smoke are particularly at risk. We can look at the risk of tobacco smoking in pregnancy in terms of the risk to the baby and the risk to the mother.

“The mother faces the risk that anybody that smokes whether male or female faces like lung cancer, chronic pulmonary diseases, ischemic heart disease, stroke. There is a great risk for the baby when it comes to tobacco in pregnancy.

“Studies have shown that there is an increased incidence of cleft mouth and cleft lips among children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. Also, pregnant women who smoke may have a miscarriage and lose the pregnancy.”

Dr. Amosu further said smoking during pregnancy could also cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“The baby will just develop acute respiratory syndrome while in the cot begin to breathe excessively and suddenly the baby will die.

“We have also discovered that within the first year, the baby is prone to having repeated pneumonia which is the infection of the lung. 

“We also need to be careful because even those who are passive smokers are also prone to these problems,” he said.

The psychiatrist called for concerted efforts to tackle the menace of smoking in Nigeria.

The World Health Organisation says no fewer than 1.2 million people die annually due to exposure to tobacco smoke.

WHO says tobacco kills half of its users and also harms nearly every organ in the human body.

The global health body cautioned that even smoking one cigarette a day could seriously harm a person’s health.

“Tobacco use can lead to lung, mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, bowel and other cancers.

“It increases the risk of chest and lung infections, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other conditions.

“There is no safe form of tobacco,” WHO said.

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