Drinkers and smokers unequivocally place their unborn babies at risk - study

Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of Department at Western Cape Department of Health, says mothers who smoke and drink during pregnancy are putting the whole society at risk.

Some of this results were revealed in a new study by Stellenbosch University in collaboration with other big universities looking at the effects of pregnant moms who drink alcohol and smoke.

The researchers found that women who both drank alcohol and smoked during pregnancy had an almost three times higher risk (2.83 relative risk) of stillbirth compared to women who completely abstained.

Read: Reproductive health 101 for pregnant women over the age of 37

The critical thing for me was that the growth of the baby during birth is retarded, the baby's development is affected as well as the intellectual ability. We are sitting with children who are emotionally not stable, intellectually challenged and they start with not a good foot in life.

Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of Department at Western Cape Dept of Health

Dr Engelbrecht says medically they knew it is not good to drink or smoke during pregnancy but this study really goes into details showing the impact.

7000 women participated over a period of seven years. 57 percent of the women were smokers and 40 percent were drinkers.

In order to overcome this, Engelbrecht says the whole society needs to get involved as soon as they discover that the mother is pregnant.

If we can offer the best support to the mother for the first 1000 days (up to 2 years) and help her take the right decisions. When the child is born, all the immunisation to stimulate the brain will actually give the baby a better chance in life.

Dr Beth Engelbrecht, Head of Department at Western Cape Dept of Health

To hear the rest of the conversation with Dr Beth Engelbrecht, listen below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Drinkers and smokers unequivocally place their unborn babies at risk - study


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