Recent medical research has linked up to 60 percent of childhood asthma and bronchitis cases (as well as many cases of middle ear infections) to maternal smoking during pregnancy or smoke exposure in the home. And smoking while you are pregnant significantly increases the risk that your child will be born prematurely or with a low birth weight. Even Philip Morris, one of the leading manufacturers of cigarettes, has admitted on its website that "there is an overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other serious diseases in smokers."
The evidence is clear -- even if you have attempted to quit smoking and were unsuccessful, you should give it another try. "Quitting is worth the effort at any point, even up to the day of delivery or even the day after delivery," says Sally Faith Dorfman, M.D., director of the division of public health and education for the Medical Society of the State of New York.
Research has shown that one of the best ways to stop smoking is to combine nicotine replacement therapy (like a nicotine skin patch or chewing gum) with participation in a class or program that offers support to help you handle the stresses associated with quitting. However, while many nicotine replacement aids are available over-the-counter, they aren't always safe for pregnant or nursing women, so it's best to discuss your options with your doctor. Check here for more information:
- American Cancer Society www.cancer.org Offers pamphlets with tips on quitting, information on nicotine addiction and the dangers of secondhand smoke, a list of reading materials and audiotapes on the different ways to kick the habit, and information on its smoking-cessation program, Freshstart.
- The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research www.ahcpr.gov Contact to receive government-researched smoking-cessation guidelines and other related materials.
- American Lung Association www.lungusa.org Provides information on local smoking-cessation programs and self-help manuals, audiotapes, and videos.
- Nicotine Anonymous World Services www.nicotine-anonymous.org Contact for information on a 12-step program to help you stop smoking.
- QuitNet www.quitnet.org Offers anti-smoking forums, real-time chat rooms, quitting advice, and guides tailored to your individual situation.