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. Even if a pregnant woman does not smoke, she may be exposed to secondhand smoke in the household, workplace, or social settings. There is also new research about the dangers from third-hand smoke, which is made of 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. For example, it may cause the following:
- low birth weight
- preterm birth
- increased risk of birth defects
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 may also experience problems during her pregnancy as a result of smoking, including, but not limited to:
- 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 birth weight.
However, if a woman quits smoking early in her pregnancy, she increases her chance of delivering a healthy baby.