Q. Does smoking affect the results of a home pregnancy test?
A. I don't think so. The HPT tests for the presence of certain hormones in your urine that indicate pregnancy. However, smoking can definitely interfere with conception, fetal development, placental implantation and other factors involving pregnancy. If you are trying for pregnancy, now is a good time to quit if you can.
Q. My best friend and I are both pregnant. She's about 18 weeks and I'm 15 weeks. My friend took Ecstasy two times and smoked pot before she knew she was pregnant and I drank a few times and also smoked pot occasionally before I knew I was pregnant. I quit smoking everything, even cigarettes, but she continues to smoke pot and cigarettes every day. I'm worried that what I did before I knew I was pregnant will affect my baby, and I'm also worried about what my friend is doing to hers. Could taking Ecstasy and smoking pot and cigarettes potentially lead to brain damage in the baby? I want our kids to grow up together and play and not have anything wrong with either of them. Please help!
A. I'm glad to see that you are taking responsibility for the well-being of yourself and your unborn child by quitting smoking and recreational drugs. You are right to assume that these activities could adversely affect your baby. Ecstasy has been known to cause brain damage, behavioral problems and even birth defects. Marijuana use is associated with brain damage and low birth weight to the fetus. Cigarette smoke has proven detrimental to unborn babies, mainly by causing low birth weight.
Try not to worry about your prior use of drugs and alcohol. There is nothing you can do about it now. Many women have ingested alcohol, drugs and medications before knowing they were pregnant and had perfectly healthy babies. See the other "alcohol" question for more details. The chances of your behavior affecting your baby are minimal as compared to your friend.
If your friend will not listen to your advice alone, you may want to enlist the help of some other friends and family to talk to her. Maybe even try an intervention-type meeting. You can contact your local substance abuse centers or a hospital for more information and helpful advice.
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Q. I am 26 weeks pregnant. My husband is a smoker and occasionally smokes near me inside the house, but he promises to quit once the baby is born. Can this proximity to cigarette smoke affect our baby, even though I am not a smoker?
A. Absolutely. You and your baby are ingesting every cigarette that your husband smokes near you. Second-hand smoke has been proven to cause lung and other cancers of many smokers’ spouses. Cigarette smoke can lead to low birth weight and underdevelopment of the fetus. You should ask you husband to quit now or smoke outside if he must.
Q. I have taken two HPTs and both are positive. I smoke and I am trying to quit, because I know it can cause many problems during pregnancy. I am only smoking two cigarettes a day now. Is that going to hurt the baby if I continue to lower my intake? Please let me know. I am on my way to completely quitting.
A. As you probably already know, cigarette smoking during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and underdevelopment of the fetus. It's a good idea to quit now. If you were an excessive smoker, weaning yourself from the habit may be the way to go so you don't go through intense withdrawals. If you have the willpower (that's the hardest part), you should be able to fully quit within a week or two. Keep in mind, the sooner you quit, the better chances your baby has for a completely healthy and normal development.
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Q. Both my boyfriend and I smoke cigarettes. What are my chances of getting pregnant during my fertile period?
A. Couples who smoke do take longer to conceive. Smoking decreases sperm counts and inhibits the sperm's motility in men. Smoking also affects the ability of women to produce healthy eggs. Smoking couples can take up to 20-30% longer than non-smoking couples to conceive.
If you are tying to conceive, maybe you should stop smoking now. If you can give up your cigarette habit before 16 weeks of the pregnancy, the risks for placental insufficiency and other complications are greatly reduced.
If you quit smoking during pregnancy, you may increase the risk for miscarriage as you and the fetus go through withdrawal. If you smoke throughout your pregnancy you may put your baby at risk for some birth defects and low birth weight. (See the other cigarette question for more details.)