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Fatherhood and tobacco: what are the risks?

You smoke and you're going to be a dad? Congratulations for your future fatherhood! This article explains the effects of smoking, especially passive smoking, on a child.

man holding a child's hand

August 5, 2020

Many people know that a pregnant woman must stop smoking during her pregnancy. This idea of the harmfulness of tobacco for the unborn child is widely understood. That is why many women stop smoking when they are pregnant. But what about the father? Why is it important that the father stop smoking? We don't talk a lot of this issue as if there is no danger in conceiving a child while smoking.

Father's smoking and newborn heart defects

A pioneering study on this subject was carried out by the team of Dr Julian Laubenthal, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Bradford in the UK, who collected blood and sperm from fathers during the period of conception, and the blood from babies at birth.

Then, the team performed DNA analysis on these samples to detect changes in genes related to cancer risk. The results of these analyses speak for themselves: the researchers found alterations in the DNA of babies whose fathers smoked.

Thus, the damage caused by cigarette smoke could be transmitted from father to child. This confirms previous research on this subject. In fact, this transmission occurs through the altered cells in the father's sperm. This is why, according to Dr. Julian Laubenthal, men must be aware of the need to stop smoking before conception. Indeed, it takes three months for sperm to mature.

This result is confirmed by a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.It confirms that the risk of congenital heart defects is increase for newborns whose father smoke. Indeed, congenital heart disease is the leading cause of death, affecting 8 out of every 1,000 babies born in the world.

Father generate second-hand smoke that is harmful for the mother and the fetus

" "Future fathers should quit smoking" said Dr. Jiabi Qin, author of a study from the Xiangya School of Public Health at Central South University in Changsha, China. "Fathers are a major source of second-hand smoke for pregnant women, which appears to be even more harmful to unborn children than women who smoke themselves."

It was also the first study that examine smoking at different stages of pregnancy and the risk of congenital heart defects. Women's exposure to second-hand smoke posed a risk to their offspring at all stages of pregnancy, and even before becoming pregnant.

father holding his baby's hand

Conclusion and advice

Thus, it has been shown that the father's use of tobacco carries risks before and after the child's conception. This is why, aware of these risks, future fathers are strongly advised to get rid of their tobacco addiction.

Are you about to become a parent and want to quit smoking? Here are few tips to help you in this process:

  • First of all, the decision to stop smoking must come from you. Our advice is to find your motivations, list them and prepare yourself to stop smoking. What better source of motivation than the arrival of a newborn baby in the family? Other motivations can be added to this, such as the desire to set a good example for your child, the desire to support the mother in her efforts to quit smoking, the desire to create a healthy family environment, the desire to live in good health, to save money, etc.
  • Then we advise you to set a stop smoking date. The starting point of this tobacco-free life is to try to choose a date that is conducive to change. For example, don't choose a stressful period but rather a time when you are on holiday.
  • Once you've set this date, prepare yourself for the difficult times. Throw out everything that reminds you of cigarettes (lighters, ashtrays, etc.). Think of ways to get rid of a craving: meditation, sports, a walk, etc.
  • Finally, talk about this decision with those around you. Your loved ones will support you in this process!

You can find more advice on how to prepare yourself to quit smoking on our blog article.

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Guidelines for a tobacco-free pregnancy

Between the cigarette and your child, the decision is simple and final: Farewell tobacco! If your pregnancy provides you the motivation you need, be sure of one thing: it will be tough struggle. This is why Kwit proposes a guideline for a tobacco-free pregnancy.