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How does smoking affect a pregnant woman and her baby?
Tobacco smoking affects both mother and baby and poses health risks to both.
Smoking during pregnancy puts the baby at risk for health problems during the
pregnancy and after the baby is born. Nicotine and all the harmful (and
cancer-causing) products inhaled from the tobacco enter the bloodstream of the
mother and are passed directly into the baby's circulation through the placenta.
Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 harmful chemicals, over 70 of which are known
to be carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Some of the known health effects on the baby include:
A decreased supply of oxygen available to the baby
Increased risk of
miscarriage and stillbirth
Increased risk of poor growth and low birth weight
Increased risk of premature delivery
Increase in the heart rate of the baby
Increased risk of breathing problems in the baby
These risks to the baby increase with the number of cigarettes smoked during
pregnancy. Of course, tobacco smoking is also harmful to the mother, increasing
her risk of cancers, cardiovascular disease,
emphysema, and other conditions.