Smoky Buns in the Oven? Vitamin C Could Be a Breath of Fresh Air for Your Baby

A pregnant woman who smokes is no doubt putting her developing fetus at risk. However, if quitting is not an option for them, at least taking vitamin C might help protect their baby’s lungs. This information comes from a study conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. They examined the lung function of 159 newborns and discovered that smoking moms who took 500 mg daily of vitamin C gave birth to babies with better lungs.

The Damaging Effects of Smoking on a Developing Fetus

It’s widely known that smoking during pregnancy has negative impacts on the lung development of the growing baby. Some of these impacts include:

  • Increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Low birth weight
  • Preterm birth
  • Respiratory complications
  • Greater likelihood of developing asthma later in life

It’s important to understand that when a pregnant woman smokes, harmful chemicals (like nicotine and carbon monoxide) enter her bloodstream. These toxic substances can be passed on to the developing fetus, leading to severe malfunctions and complications in lung development.

How Vitamin C Helps

The researchers at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital are the first to show that daily use of vitamin C by pregnant women who smoke can play a significant role in improving their newborns’ pulmonary function tests (PFTs). These tests were administered to their offspring at about 48 hours postpartum.

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is essential for the creation of collagen – an integral component in the construction of tissues, including the lungs. In other words, vitamin C has antioxidative properties that can be vital to the proper development of a baby’s lungs, as it counteracts the harmful effects of oxidative radicals generated by cigarette smoke.

While encouraging pregnant women to quit smoking should be the top priority, this study shows that there might be a way to help infants born to the approximately 12% of pregnant women unable to kick the habit. Vitamin C supplementation may help block some of the in-utero effects of smoking on fetal lung development.

Supplementing with Vitamin C

If you’re a pregnant smoker considering using vitamin C supplements, it’s important to know the recommended daily amount. The advised daily intake of vitamin C for pregnant women is 85 milligrams (mg). However, the study mentioned above revealed that expectant mothers who smoke and took 500 mg of vitamin C daily were able to give birth to babies with better lung function.

It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements during pregnancy, as they may recommend a different dosage depending on your specific situation. Furthermore, it’s crucial not to rely solely on supplements – ensure that you’re also consuming vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, kale, and broccoli.

Other Tips to Protect Baby’s Lungs

In addition to supplementing with vitamin C, here are a few other tips to help protect your baby’s lungs if quitting smoking is not feasible:

  1. Avoid secondhand smoke: Secondhand smoke is just as hazardous as smoking itself. Make sure to keep your living environment smoke-free and avoid being around smokers during pregnancy.
  2. Stay away from polluted areas: Air pollution can be harmful to your developing baby’s lungs. Keep away from car exhaust fumes and industrial areas to maintain a healthy environment for your baby.
  3. Practice proper breathing techniques: Deep breathing exercises can help improve oxygen flow to your developing baby. Practice deep breathing exercises regularly to help support your baby’s lung development.
  4. Stay hydrated: Drinking water can help flush toxins from cigarettes out of your body and can be beneficial in promoting better lung function.

In summary, quitting smoking during pregnancy is the best course of action. However, if you are unable to quit, it’s worth considering adding vitamin C supplementation to your daily routine. Just bear in mind that vitamin C should not be used as an antidote to smoking. It’s essential to work alongside healthcare professionals to find the best way to quit smoking and to protect your baby’s health.