Smoking During Pregnancy

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Smoking during pregnancy facts

  • Tobacco smoking in pregnancy is dangerous for both mother and baby.
  • The harmful chemicals from tobacco smoking are passed directly to the baby through the mother's bloodstream.
  • Effects of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy include increased risk of stillbirth and miscarriage, an increased risk of low birth weight, and an increased risk of premature delivery.
  • Secondhand smoke also poses health risks for mother and baby.
  • Babies exposed to secondhand smoke in the home have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • There is no safe limit for tobacco smoke exposure in pregnancy.
  • Nicotine replacement products have not been studied in pregnant women.

How does smoking affect a pregnant woman and her baby?

Reader Stories

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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/8/2015

Pregnancy Myths and Facts Quiz: Test Your Pregnancy IQ

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Smoking During Pregnancy - Secondhand Smoke Question: Were you exposed to secondhand smoke during your pregnancy? If so, what are your concerns?
Smoking During Pregnancy - Quitting Question: Please discuss your experience with quitting smoking before or during pregnancy.
Smoking During Pregnancy - Nicotine Replacement Question: Share your experience using nicotine replacement when you quit smoking during your pregnancy.

Secondhand Smoke and Children

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke May Lower Children's IQ

A study shows that children who are exposed to tobacco smoke in the home may have lower IQs than their unexposed peers.

Environmental tobacco smoke has already been definitively linked to a number of medical problems in children, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), colic, middle ear disease, worsening of asthma symptoms, and other respiratory problems.