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Is it harmful to smoke during pregnancy?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Smoking during pregnancy exposes the baby to dangerous chemicals such as nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. These chemicals may make it more difficult for the baby to get oxygen and can also damage the baby's lungs.

It is harmful to smoke during pregnancy. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Smoking slows your baby’s growth before birth. Your baby may be born underweight, even after a full-term pregnancy.
  • Your baby may be born too early (premature birth). Premature babies often have health problems.
  • Smoking can damage your baby's developing lungs and brain. The damage can last through childhood and into the teen years.
  • Smoking doubles your risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. This can put both you and your baby in danger.
  • Smoking raises your baby’s risk for birth defects, including cleft lip, cleft palate or both. A cleft is an opening in your baby's lip or in the roof of her mouth (palate). She can have trouble eating properly and is likely to need surgery.
  • Babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy—and babies exposed to cigarette smoke after birth—have a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.