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Smoking and Pregnancy

The risks involved with smoking during pregnancy

Although fewer women are smoking during their pregnancy now than in the past, the habit still persists among many women. In addition, even if a pregnant woman does not smoke, she may be exposed to secondhand smoke in the household, in the workplace, or in social settings. There is also new research about the dangers from third-hand smoke, the chemicals, particles, and gases of tobacco that are left on hair, clothing, and furnishings.

Smoke can be damaging to a fetus in several ways. It may cause the following:

  • Low birthweight

  • Preterm birth

  • Stillbirths

  • Increased risk of birth defects

Subsequently, babies born to smokers may also have the following problems:

  • Poor lung development

  • Asthma and respiratory infections

  • Increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • Physical growth deficiency

  • Intellectual development deficiency

  • Behavioral problems

The mother, too, may experience problems during her pregnancy as a result of smoking, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Placental complications

  • Preterm labor

  • Infections in the uterus

Researchers believe the effects of carbon monoxide (which reduces oxygen in the blood) and nicotine (which stimulates certain hormones) cause many of these adverse effects.

Babies of mothers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have reduced fetal growth and low birthweight.

However, if a woman quits smoking early in her pregnancy, she increases her chance of delivering a healthy baby.

Smoking and Pregnancy - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2013-05-26T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2013-06-03T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2013-06-03T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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