Physician Warns: Smoking During Pregnancy Put Babies At Risk Of Pneumonia.
Written by Atang Precious on June 1, 2021
A Consultant Psychiatrist at the Drug Abuse Unit, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr. Sunday Amosu, has advised pregnant women to stay away from tobacco use, warning that babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are prone to suffering from repeated pneumonia within one year of their birth.
Amosu said women who use tobacco in pregnancy are at risk of giving birth to children with birth defects such as cleft lips.
According to UNICEF, though pneumonia is a preventable disease, it kills more children globally than any other infection.
The UN child agency says Nigerian children made up the highest number of those who died, with an estimated 162,000 deaths in 2018 – 443 deaths per day, or 18 every hour.
“In Nigeria, 19 percent of child deaths were due to pneumonia in 2018, and it was the biggest killer of children under-five in 2017.
“Pneumonia is a deadly disease and takes so many children’s lives – even though this is mostly preventable. And yet, this killer disease has been largely forgotten on the global and national health agendas”, UNICEF said.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise as Nigeria joins the global community on Monday to mark the 2021 World No Tobacco Day, Amosu said available statistics show that about one out of every 10 Nigerians currently smoke cigarettes.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Commit to quit.”
The psychiatrist said, “There are 1.1 billion smokers worldwide and 80 percent 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.
Amosu pointed out that smoking in pregnancy can also lead to sudden respiratory distress and the death of infants.
Continuing, he said, “Smoking in pregnancy can also cause what is called 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.”
The psychiatrist urged all hands to be on deck to tackle the menace of smoking in Nigeria.
Also speaking about the 2021 World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, says no fewer than 1.2 million people die annually due to exposure to tobacco smoke.
Moeti said this in her message to mark the day, stressing that the theme was to remind everyone that tobacco kills half of its users, and also harms nearly every organ in the human body.
She said that even smoking one cigarette a day can 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”, she said.
Moeti said that of the 1.3 billion tobacco users globally, 60 percent have expressed the desire to quit.
”But only 30 percent have access to the tools to do so successfully,” she noted.