Tobacco Essay

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Tobacco is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States.
Nicotine, which is an alkaloid derived from the tobacco plant, is a potent chemical that has powerful effects on the human body, especially when administered rapidly or at high doses. Prenatal exposure to nicotine is associated with adverse reproductive outcomes, including altered neural structure and functioning, cognitive deficits, and behavior problems in the offspring (9). At least 20% - 30% of pregnant women are estimated to smoke cigarettes, although smoking is associated with low birth weight, prematurity and infant mortality. In the United States, smoking accounts annually for estimated fetal deaths ranging from 19,000 to 141,000, for 1,900
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A similar study by Lauren S. Wakschlag, on maternal smoking during pregnancy and the risk of conduct disorder in boys, revealed that mothers who smoked more than half a pack of cigarettes daily during pregnancy were significantly more likely to have offspring who met DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria for Conduct Disorder during the preadolescent or adolescent years than women who did not smoke or smoked only occasionally during pregnancy. These findings support previous work showing that maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with increased rates of preschool and school-age behavior problems and delinquency in the offspring.

The relationship between smoking and low birth weight, prematurity, and miscarriage has been well established. The effects of nicotine are seen in every trimester of pregnancy, from increased spontaneous abortions in the first trimester to increased premature delivery rates and decreased birth weights in the final trimester. In 1957, Simpson first noted in an observational study of 7,499 patients that the incidence of premature delivery, as defined by a birth weight less than 2,500g, was twice as great for the smoking mother as compared with the nonsmoking mother (5). A similar study by Walsh concluded that the smoking mother is at two-fold increased risk for delivering a low birth weight infant than her nonsmoking

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