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Why is smoking dangerous during pregnancy?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Pregnancy and smoking are not a good mix. If you are pregnant or thinking about having a baby, there's no better time to quit smoking than now. Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant. If they do get pregnant, they risk losing the baby or having a stillborn baby. And babies born to mothers who smoke: may be smaller than normal at birth are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) may be cranky, restless and get sick more often are more likely to have learning problems as they develop The good news is that quitting can help you have a healthy baby. It helps to quit any time during your pregnancy, but it's even better to quit before you become pregnant.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Smoking during pregnancy may harm the growing baby. It increases the risk of having smaller babies, delivering a pre-term child and even cause infant death. It is also linked to mental retardation and facial deformities.

Many women are aware of these health risks and still have a hard time quitting. One common reason is the fear of gaining weight since some smoke to control their weight.— If you are a woman of childbearing age who smoke, it will be wise to contact a health care professional that will help you quit. Also you may want to visit a registered dietitian that will show you how eating the right food is good for you and the baby.

Smoking during pregnancy has been associated with miscarriage, stillbirths, premature births and low-birth-weight babies. Recent research has also shown that babies and children who have mothers who smoke around them have more respiratory-tract infections and may have some growth retardation and learning disabilities. Therefore, quitting smoking is strongly recommended. Talk to your doctor about programs available to help you stop smoking.

The dangers of smoking during pregnancy include premature birth, low birth weight, certain birth defects (cleft lip and cleft palate) and infant death. Even being around cigarette smoke puts a woman and the fetus at risk for problems. Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best. But for a woman who is already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems for the baby. It’s never too late to quit smoking.

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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.