CHOC Children's
PREGNANCY / CHILDBIRTH :: Risks to Pregnancy

Smoking and Pregnancy

The risks involved with smoking during pregnancy:

Although fewer women are smoking during their pregnancy now than ever before, 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, workplace, or in social settings.

Did You Know?
Studies have shown that maternal smoking during pregnancy has long-term effects on children's behavior and health, including adolescent drug abuse and negative behavior and conduct such as impulsiveness, risk-taking, and rebelliousness. Prenatal exposure to smoke may also predispose children to early smoking experimentation.

Source: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)

Smoke can be damaging to a fetus in several ways, and 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.

However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if a woman quits smoking early in her pregnancy, she increases her chance of delivering a healthy baby.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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