Most people are likely aware of the adverse effects of smoking during pregnancy.
But discussions on this subject normally focus on the harms that a smoking mother can cause her unborn children.
As such, most campaign messages or doctors’ recommendations during pregnancy largely target mothers who are advised to stop smoking.
This has led many to turn a blind eye to other individuals and second-hand smoke sources that could be detrimental to expectant mothers.
A new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology shows that fathers-to-be that smoke may increase the risk of congenital heart defects in their offspring.
The condition occurs when the heart, or blood vessel near it, fails to develop normally before birth.
The defects usually become evident soon after birth or during the first few months of life.
Signs and symptoms of the condition in newborns include fatigue, rapid breathing, poor blood circulation and a bluish tint to the skin, lips, and fingernails.
These congenital defects are a major cause of the 2.6 million stillbirths that happen globally each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Stillbirths lead to more than 7,000 deaths daily, with the majority of these deaths (98 percent) occurring in low and middle-income countries like Kenya.
“Fathers are a large source of second-hand smoke for pregnant women. This smoke appears to be even more harmful to unborn children than women smoking themselves. So fathers-to-be should stop smoking, ” said Dr Jiabi Qin, lead author of the study from the Xiangya School of Public Health at the Central South University in China.
Aside from looking at the impact of paternal smoking on the health of the unborn baby, the researchers also sought to analyse the link between maternal passive smoking (involuntary inhaling of smoke from other people’s cigarette) and the risk of congenital heart defects in offspring.
This was a first of its kind meta-analysis research (review of studies) to examine the effect of these different kinds of smoking on the heart of babies.
“Yet, smoking in fathers-to-be and exposure to passive smoking in expectant mothers are more common than smoking in pregnant women,” stated Dr Qin.
Indeed, the study showed that the risk of congenital heart defects among children of smoking mothers was 25 percent.
But this figure shot to 74 percent and 124 percent among children with smoking fathers and those whose mothers involuntarily inhaled smoke from other people’s cigarettes respectively.
In addition, the research results showed that women’s exposure to second-hand smoke was risky for their offspring during all stages of pregnancy and even prior to becoming pregnant.
Those who smoked during pregnancy had a raised likelihood of bearing a child with a congenital heart defect, but smoking before pregnancy did not affect risk.
“Therefore, women should stop smoking before trying to become pregnant to ensure they are smoke-free when they conceive,” said Dr Qin.
“Staying away from people who are smoking is also important. Employers can help by ensuring that workplaces are smoke-free.”
According to Dr Qin, doctors and primary healthcare professionals need to do more to publicise and educate prospective parents about the potential hazards of smoking for their unborn child.
Aside from congenital heart defects, previous studies have shown that fathers-to-be can increase miscarriage risk among expectant women by smoking during the pregnancy, or even during the time leading up to conception.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that women whose partner smoked during the first few months of the pregnancy were 17 percent more likely to miscarry than women with non-smoking partners.
The study from China, which was based on data for nearly six million pregnancies also showed that women whose partner quit smoking around the time of conception had an 18 percent lower risk of miscarriage than those whose smoking partner failed to do so.
A smoking partner or husband might influence the health of their unborn babies in two possible ways.
They can expose their wives or partners to chemicals through second-hand smoke that they blow out while smoking cigarettes, as well as third-hand smoke which refers to smoke deposits on clothes, furniture, carpets.
Alternatively, smoking might impact the quality of the father’s sperm, leading to genetic mutations that could in turn lead to birth defects in their offspring.
In a 2012 study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, researchers found that men who smoke before conception can damage the genetic information in their offspring, leading to DNA mutations that make the children susceptible to fatal diseases like cancer in the future.
“It’s for this reason that men should be urged to stop smoking before trying to conceive, in the same way women have been urged to quit,” noted the researchers.
As fertile sperm take about three months to fully develop, men are thus advised to quit smoking long before they plan to ‘make’ babies or prior to conception.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.