Smoking during pregnancy facts
- Tobacco smoking in pregnancy is dangerous for both mother and baby.
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
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
- There is no safe limit for tobacco smoke exposure in
- Nicotine replacement products have not been studied in pregnant
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.
Quick Guide25 Effects of Smoking on Your Looks and Life
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.
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
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 on 9/12/2016
Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology
"Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke." CDC.
"Secondhand Smoke." Smokefree.gov.