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Second-hand smoke can harm baby

May is Anti-Tobacco Awareness Month. While many women quit smoking when they become pregnant, their babies can still be affected by second-hand smoke from friends and family. As a result of smoke inhalation from both smoking mothers and second-hand smoke, new-born babies are most vulnerable to a number of health complications.


“Even indirect contact with cigarettes can have harmful effects on the health of pregnant women and their babies,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and head of The Birthing Team, an affordable maternity care programme available in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Polokwane.


Manyonga highlights the dangers that exposure to cigarettes can have on babies:


  • Low birth weight – smoking while pregnant and exposure to second-hand smoke can affect the weight of your child at birth. A lower birth weight means that babies are weaker and at a higher risk for serious health problems.
  • Preterm birth – babies who are exposed to second-hand smoke while in the womb are at risk of a premature birth. If born preterm, the baby’s lungs are not fully developed, and this can result in breathing difficulties.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – infants who are exposed to second-hand smoke after they are born are more likely to die of SIDS. This is a disorder where an infant dies unexpectedly while they are sleeping.
  • More sick days – children whose parents smoke around them are more likely to get bronchitis and pneumonia. If a child has asthma, their symptoms can also be more severe in a smoking household.


Pregnant women should always encourage people to not smoke around them during pregnancy and after birth. “Make sure your partner, family and friends smoke outdoors as far away from you as possible, and declare your house and car a smoke-free zone,” says Manyonga.


The Birthing Team, supported by healthcare management company PPO Serve, makes complete private maternity care affordable for uninsured women by charging an all-inclusive fee that covers all necessary scans, tests, medications, services and assessments from 11 weeks of pregnancy to six weeks after delivery. With a focus on antenatal care and patient education, the teams reduce the risks of preterm delivery and emergency c-sections. They are currently operational at Netcare Park Lane in Johannesburg, the Femina Hospital in Pretoria, JMH City Hospital in Durban.





Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications

Chelsey Wilken

021 447 1082 / 074 470 5996


Distributed on behalf of The Birthing Team

Head of The Birthing Team: Dr Howard Manyonga


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