Smoking cigarettes is an unhealthy habit that is especially dangerous for women who are pregnant. Despite these risks, smoking during pregnancy is still a common problem. More than 12% of women who smoke are unable to quit while they are pregnant.
Women who are unable to quit smoking during their pregnancy put themselves and their baby at greater risk for medical complications, such as:
- Fetal tissue injury, specifically in the lungs and brain
- Preterm delivery
- Low birth weight
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Although it is recommended that women kick their smoking habit while pregnant, researchers have discovered that vitamin C may help combat lung problems in babies born to pregnant smokers.
In a double-blind study, one group of smokers took 500 mg of vitamin C supplementation daily during pregnancy. The second group was given a placebo tablet. All mothers in the study were encouraged to quit smoking for the duration of their pregnancy. Those who didn’t quit smoked an average of seven cigarettes a day. Both groups also took a prenatal vitamin.
Infants born to mothers who took vitamin C showed improved pulmonary function 48 hours after birth compared to infants whose mothers took placebo tablets. The vitamin C group also had fewer incidents of wheezing throughout their first year of life.
The study will continue until children from the study are six years old. This will provide data on their long-term respiratory health, specifically whether children born to smokers who took vitamin C are less likely to develop asthma. Future trials may examine whether benefits are greater if supplementation begins earlier in a pregnancy and continues in the infants after birth.
Researchers think vitamin C has this effect on infant respiration because of the vitamin’s ability to replace ascorbic acid that is depleted by cigarette usage.
Vitamin C is a safe and inexpensive treatment that could potentially help infants born to mothers who can’t or won’t quit smoking. The top priority is to encourage women to quit smoking during their pregnancy.
If you or a loved one is trying to quit smoking, the dedicated team at PCCMA is here to help. Call us today at (717) 234-2561.