06 Jul SANDS and Smoking
What is SANDS?
SANDS stands for stillbirth and neonatal death syndrome. Stillbirth is the death of a baby before or during birth after 24 weeks of gestation in the UK. (The World Health Organization (WHO) definition is after 28 weeks.) And, neonatal death is the death of a baby within the first 28 days of life.
Does Smoking Have an Impact?
Smoking increases the risk for heart, vascular, and lung disease. Smoking can also lead to problems with fertility in both men and women. Erectile dysfunction and pregnancy complication rates are also increased with smoking. Women who smoke are twice as likely to be infertile as non-smokers.
Chemicals (such as nicotine, cyanide, and carbon monoxide) in cigarette smoke speed up the loss rate of eggs. Unfortunately, once eggs die off, they cannot regenerate or be replaced. This means that menopause occurs 1 to 4 years earlier in women who smoke (compared with non-smokers).
Male smokers can suffer decreased sperm quality with lower counts (numbers of sperm) and motility (sperm’s ability to move) and increased numbers of abnormally shaped sperm. Smoking might also decrease the sperm’s ability to fertilize eggs.
Smoking while pregnant is one of the preventable factors with potential influence on stillbirth and infant death. Smoking reduces foetal oxygenation by increasing levels of carbon monoxide in the blood levels. Nicotine also causes constriction of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure which, increases vascular resistance and decreases foetal blood flow. Exposure to smoking while pregnant can cause damage to the developing organs, making them vulnerable to disease, or it may disturb the immune system, risking the child to infectious or other diseases.
Will Quitting Help?
Quitting smoking can improve fertility, though, the decrease of the egg supply cannot be reversed. The rate of pregnancy complications due to smoking decreases the longer a person has not smoked.
Quitting smoking can be very, difficult but studies show that the chance for success is much higher if you work with your health-care provider and/or a support group, such as Kick-It. The service will provide evidence-based advice and guidance throughout your quit journey to ensure the correct method of quitting is applied to you.
Where do I Find Support?
Sands is the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK. Sands exists to reduce the number of babies dying and to ensure that anyone affected by the death of a baby receives the best possible care and support for as long as they need it.
Sands provides bereavement support services both nationally through its Freephone helpline, mobile app, online community and resources, and locally through a UK-wide network of around 100 regional support groups.
Sands works in partnership with health care professionals, trusts and health boards and offers a range of training programmes and bereavement care resources to ensure that every bereaved parent and family receives the best possible care wherever they are in the UK.
Sands promotes and funds research to better understand the causes of baby deaths and save babies’ lives. The charity also raises awareness of baby loss and works with governments, key influencers and other stakeholders to make reducing the number of babies dying a priority nationally and locally (SANDS, 2021).
A t Kick-It we provide a free, evidence-based service for smokers 13 years and over who would like support in giving up smoking. All our clients receive six weeks of 1-1 support from a specialist stop smoking advisor who will tailor their support to everyone, as we recognise that everyone is different. Visit us at kick-it.org.uk or call us at 020 3434 2500.