Vitamin C and Pregnancy – Help For Smoking Moms by Rebecca Prescott
Whilst most women are aware of the negative effects smoking whilst pregnant can have on their developing baby, many still cannot give up. The good news is that researchers believe that taking vitamin C can counteract some of these effects.
Smoking during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery of the baby, poor growth, and in some instances, is implicated in fetal deaths. It can also affect the way the infant’s lungs develop, as nicotine can cross the placenta. As a result, babies may have less lung function and develop more respiratory illnesses.
But a group of researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University found that in baby monkeys given both nicotine and vitamin C, the flow of air in the lungs was close to normal. There were three groups of pregnant monkeys in the study – one group was given only nicotine, one given neither nicotine nor vitamin C, and one group given both. The nicotine given was comparable to that which a pregnant mother would smoke. The group given nothing acted as the control group.
Whilst this study was done on monkeys, the team behind the study believe that the results are very relevant to humans. But more work needs to be done to determine how much vitamin C is needed for smoking pregnant mothers to get similar benefits. And to ensure that higher amounts of vitamin C during pregnancy doesn’t cause other unwanted effects.
The researchers did stress that despite the positive benefits of vitamin C during pregnancy, it did not counteract all of smoking’s negative effects on the fetus. For example, lower body weight and nicotine’s effect on brain development were still a potential issue.
Another benefit of taking vitamin C during pregnancy is that it may decrease the chance of their waters breaking too early. This is true for all women irrespective of whether they are smokers or not. This research was done by a team in Mexico at the National Institute of Perinatology, this time on humans. The women in this study were either given a placebo or 100mg of vitamin C per day. And the group who received the vitamin C had a lot less instances where their waters broke early. This meant less premature births with the associated risk of infections.
The women in the study received the vitamin C from the 20th week of pregnancy until they gave birth. Vitamin C helps maintain the collagen in the membranes that hold the amniotic fluid in place.
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If you’d like to learn more about supplemental vitamin C, including the different forms this supplement is available in, check out this article. And this for herb pregnancy advice on which herbs to avoid and which can reduce the effects of morning sickness.