It has been proven time and again that smoking kills. When it comes to smoking and pregnancy, the risks are dangerous to the mother and the baby too. A new study published in Pediatrics says that smoking just one cigarette can double the risk of sudden unexpected infant death. This refers to a condition when an infant (below the age of one) dies unexpectedly from causes that are not obvious and that need to be investigated. In the study, it was observed that sudden unexpected infant death occurs more in women who smoked an average of 1-20 cigarettes a day. Even women who smoked three months before pregnancy but had given up smoking by the first trimester had a high risk of sudden unexpected infant death. Giving up smoking by the third trimester was observed to reduce the risk by 23 per cent. Apart from sudden unexpected infant death, there are many other dangerous health consequences of smoking during and before pregnancy. Here are some of them:

Heart defects:  Mothers who smoke during their pregnancy are likely to have a 50 to 70 per cent higher risk of having newborns with heart defects. These newborns are at a 20 per cent greater risk of having atrial septal defect or holes in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.

Liver damage: Smoking can adversely affect foetal organs, especially the liver, notes a study by the University of Edinburgh. Interestingly, it was observed that female fetuses get more damaged than male fetuses as a result of smoking.

Early puberty: A study by the Aarhus University said that pregnant women who had smoked more than ten cigarettes a day during pregnancy were likely to have kids who developed puberty three to six months earlier than the children of non-smokers. According to the research, early puberty could spell major trouble for the kid in the future as it has been associated with an increase in the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Asthma and lung infections: When the foetus is exposed to tobacco smoke, its lungs can get affected. The child could also develop respiratory disorders like asthma in the future. Even second-hand smoke is dangerous for the unborn baby.

Hearing loss: Women who smoke during pregnancy or those who are exposed to second-hand smoke at around 4 months of pregnancy have twice the risk of having children with hearing defects.

Cleft lip: There’s a strong association between cleft lip and prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke. Studies have found that smoking mothers are more likely to have offsprings with cleft lip or cleft palate.

Obesity: Smoking during pregnancy can cause the offspring later in life. Smoking is known to accelerate fat cell development that could lead to obesity. Obesity could then further lead to a number of health complications including diabetes, hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.