The fetal tobacco syndrome is triggered by active as well as passive smoking during pregnancy, as the around 5000 different poisons of a burning cigarette also reach the fetus via the placenta. Miscarriages and premature births are just as often associated with fetal tobacco syndrome, as are sudden infant death syndrome or a general developmental disorder, low IQ, asthma and other respiratory diseases in the newborn child.
What is Fetal Tobacco Syndrome?
According to Gradinmath, the term fetal tobacco syndrome is understood by medicine to mean the entirety of all diseases and symptoms from which an unborn child can suffer as a result of active and passive tobacco consumption during pregnancy. Smokers inhale up to 5000 different chemicals. For this reason, the doctor not only advises against smoking in general, but especially during pregnancy, as the unborn child smokes with the mother.
Even if there is no active tobacco consumption, the fetus can suffer from fetal tobacco syndrome, for example in passively smoking mothers whose spouse takes up a cigarette in the apartment. Fetal tobacco syndrome can have serious consequences even after the child is born.
So is sudden infant death brought, for example, half of all cases of passive smoking combined. Development disorders are more common, however, which can manifest themselves after birth as a low IQ, low weight, stunted growth, asthma or allergy diseases.
As the name suggests, active and passive tobacco consumption by the expectant mother is the cause of fetal tobacco syndrome. Tobacco poisons such as arsenic, hydrogen cyanide, benzene, cadium or lead as well as carbon monoxide and tar are passed on to the embryo through the placenta. The placenta is not equipped with filter mechanisms and therefore cannot distinguish which substances the fetus needs and which should be kept away from it.
Depending on the intensity of tobacco consumption, the unborn child can suffer considerable damage while still in the womb and, under certain circumstances, even lose it. Tobacco also has a negative impact on the developmental phases of the fetus, which is often the cause of low birth weight.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
The symptoms and complaints associated with fetal tobacco syndrome cannot be foreseen across the board. A number of different health consequences can be related to tobacco use during pregnancy. For example, the newborns often have poorer lung function than children of non-smoking parents.
Infections, especially those of the respiratory tract and middle ears, can also be favored by the parents’ cigarette consumption. Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are just as frequently associated with fetal tobacco syndrome. In addition, early childhood development may be delayed or otherwise impaired as a result of the syndrome.
In connection with deformations, the so-called cleft lip is particularly common in various forms. In general, in connection with fetal tobacco syndrome, newborns are said to be of poorer health than those of non-smoking parents.
Diagnosis & course
The diagnosis of fetal tobacco syndrome is based primarily on the patient’s medical history. Since many different and relatively unspecific early childhood diseases can be associated with the syndrome, a reliable diagnosis is hardly possible. Even during pregnancy, the fetal tobacco syndrome often manifests itself in a placenta solution, so that in the worst case scenario it leads to a miscarriage or, in the best possible case, to a premature birth.
The later course of the syndrome depends heavily on the symptoms of past tobacco consumption. In the worst case, sudden infant death syndrome can occur. General developmental disorders or general health weaknesses occur more frequently, which under certain circumstances can manifest themselves over the entire life of the child.
There are a number of health complications associated with fetal tobacco syndrome. Even during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of premature placenta dissolution and, as a consequence, premature birth or miscarriage. After the birth, the syndrome often leads to general developmental disorders and general poor health in the child.
In the worst case scenario, sudden infant death syndrome occurs. The health problems can manifest themselves throughout life. Typical long-term effects include behavioral problems, poor concentration and hyperactivity. In addition, children with fetal tobacco syndrome have a higher risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Affected newborns often have decreased lung function and suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases later in life. In addition, the risk of obesity and thus of type 2 diabetes mellitus is increased. Many sufferers develop malignant blood and lymph gland diseases, which put even more stress on the already ailing organism.
Externally, the disease can lead to the formation of club feet, eye deformities and hernias. In rare cases, the syndrome also reduces the size of the heart or damages it in some other way.
When should you go to the doctor?
Direct treatment by a doctor is not possible for this syndrome. Those affected have to overcome their addiction and are not allowed to smoke cigarettes during pregnancy in order not to endanger the child’s well-being. However, if the withdrawal from cigarettes does not work without outside help, withdrawal can be carried out. As a result, many complications and complaints for the child can be avoided. Psychological support and treatment can also be very advisable for this.
In addition, visits to the doctor for this syndrome are also necessary if the child suffers from various malformations due to tobacco consumption. These should be diagnosed and treated very early on. Above all, discomfort in the ears or in the heart can occur and make everyday life difficult for the patient.
The syndrome itself can be diagnosed by a general practitioner or by a pediatrician. Further treatment, however, is carried out by the respective specialist and is heavily dependent on the severity of the symptoms. However, if you quit smoking early, most symptoms can be reduced. This also significantly increases the life expectancy of the child.
Treatment & Therapy
The doctor will decide on an appropriate treatment based on the symptoms present. Since the previous tobacco consumption is the cause of the fetal tobacco syndrome, no more causal, but only symptomatic treatment can take place in the narrower sense.
Malformations such as the cleft lip can be remedied by surgical interventions. Special drugs are available to treat respiratory diseases. The same is true of diabetes and many cardiovascular diseases. However, the general developmental disorders of the affected children can hardly be resolved.
Outlook & forecast
The damage to health caused by fetal tobacco syndrome is considered incurable. In many cases, the tobacco consumption of the expectant mother triggers permanent health impairments in the development and growth process of the child during pregnancy.
General developmental disorders, short stature or mental decline must be individually tested and diagnosed after the birth. The prognosis of fetal tobacco syndrome is therefore largely dependent on the very different types of consequential damage caused by active or passive tobacco consumption in pregnant women.
Sudden infant death syndrome occurs in severe cases. Surviving children often suffer from the effects of tobacco syndrome for life. The child’s quality of life is shaped by allergies, respiratory diseases, mental abnormalities or low body weight.
If targeted support measures are taken immediately after the birth, long-term improvements in wellbeing can be achieved. The child’s immune system is supported and stabilized through selected therapies or early medical care.
If the environmental conditions are tailored to the needs of the child, cognitive improvements as well as health optimizations can be achieved. Adults are normally able to shape their own lifestyle independently. Nevertheless, they have an increased risk of secondary diseases such as asthma, cancer or mental disorders.
The fetal tobacco syndrome can be prevented. In this context, pregnant women should give up smoking, for example. If this is not possible for them, a drastic reduction in tobacco consumption to a maximum of five cigarettes a day applies as a minimum requirement. However, since passive tobacco consumption can also trigger the fetal tobacco syndrome, expectant mothers should not be in smoky rooms either.
If your partner is a smoker, he should, for example, leave the apartment to smoke. Of course, parents must always keep their babies away from tobacco smoke. Although there is no longer any question of fetal tobacco syndrome in this context, cigarette smoke could trigger cot death or respiratory diseases even if the child does not come into contact with it until the first few weeks after birth.
With this disease, the measures or options for follow-up care are very limited in most cases, so that the tobacco syndrome must first and foremost be prevented. Smoking should therefore be avoided during pregnancy in order to prevent malformations or other defects in the child.
The follow-up care itself depends very much on the exact type and severity of the defects and malformations, so that no general prediction can be made. In most cases, the children are dependent on the help of the family or relatives with tobacco syndrome in order to be able to cope with everyday life. Loving care and support always has a positive effect on the further course of the disease.
Psychological upsets also often have to be treated, although conversations with friends and family can also be helpful. In order to promote the development of the child, intensive measures are necessary, whereby many exercises can also be carried out in your own home. Above all, the parents must take action to alleviate the symptoms of tobacco syndrome. The life expectancy of the child may be restricted by the tobacco syndrome.
You can do that yourself
The best form of self-help for fetal tobacco syndrome is consistent prevention. The syndrome is exclusively by regular smoking causes or passive smoking during pregnancy. Before becoming pregnant, women smokers should therefore be aware of whether they can and want to give up tobacco consumption for nine months. Nicotine withdrawal should be started before the woman tries to become pregnant.
If you cannot quit smoking without help, you should seek support. On the one hand, there are self-help groups on the Internet that encourage and support those affected and help ensure that they do not lose motivation. In addition, there are special chewing gum and coated tablets from the pharmacy that make withdrawal easier. Those affected should seek advice from a pharmacist.
Since passive smoking is also enormously harmful to the embryo, it is important that the pregnant woman no longer smokes in the entire social environment of the pregnant woman. If the partner consumes nicotine, he must also give up smoking or consistently leave the apartment and car while he is smoking.
A smoke-free environment should also be ensured in the workplace. Employers are obliged to protect non-smokers from the consequences of passive smoking. If there are gaps in the workplace, the works council or the union should be involved. As a rule, there is also a violation of the workplace ordinance, so that the trade supervisory authority can intervene.