Giving your child a healthy start in life is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, the chairman of the BMA in Scotland said today.
One in every seven babies born each year in Scotland requires some form of special care. Two of the main reasons for requiring this care are premature birth and low birth weight; smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy both increase the risk of these.
Dr Peter Terry, Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: "Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), an increased risk of the child developing diabetes and an increased risk of attention deficit disorder. If the child continues to be exposed to smoke during infancy there is an increased risk of asthma and ear infections. These risks are increased for those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland.
"Heavy drinking during pregnancy can lead to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD is a term used to encompass a wide range of physical, mental and behavioural effects that can occur in the children of mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy. However, the affects of maternal alcohol consumption are not limited to FASD. Alcohol can also increase the risk of infertility, miscarriage and has been linked to an increase risk of SIDS. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a problem across all of Scotland and its effects are not limited to socially deprived areas."
The call came as BMA Scotland published a briefing paper on the health impact of smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy on the unborn child.
Twenty-five percent of women in Scotland smoke during pregnancy, affecting 12,500 babies, and 55% of women in the UK report drinking alcohol during their pregnancy.