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Is any amount of smoking safe in pregnancy?
While the health risks increase with an increased amount of smoking, there is no known safe limit for tobacco smoking in pregnancy. All smoking can have serious health consequences for the baby.
What are the risks of secondhand smoke in pregnancy?
Secondhand smoke is breathing tobacco smoke from being near a smoker. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancers. The risks of smoking during pregnancy apply to pregnant women who breathe secondhand smoke as well.
For babies exposed to secondhand smoke, there is an increase in risk for developing asthma attacks, breathing problems, ear infections, impaired lung development, and coughing. Children exposed to secondhand smoke require more ear tube surgeries than those who are not exposed. One study showed that exposure to secondhand smoke was associated with lower IQs in children. Sudden infant death syndrome is more common in babies born to women who smoked during pregnancy as well as in babies exposed to secondhand smoke.
Can nicotine replacement products be used during pregnancy to quit smoking?
Nicotine replacement products result in a buildup of nicotine in the bloodstream in those who use them, decreasing the cravings and withdrawal symptoms for those trying to quit. However, the nicotine in the bloodstream directly enters the fetal circulation from the mother, and these products and their potential risks to the baby have not been studied in pregnant women. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that these products be used in pregnancy only when non-drug methods such as counseling have failed, and when the increased chance of quitting smoking with these products outweighs the unknown risks of nicotine use during pregnancy.
Medically reviewed by Steven Nelson, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology
CDC.gov. Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.
Smokefree.gov. Secondhand Smoke.