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What are the health effects of tobacco use on pregnancy?
Smoking during pregnancy remains one of the most common preventable causes of pregnancy
complications and of illness and death among infants. Women who quit smoking before or during
pregnancy reduce their risk for poor pregnancy outcomes.
Compared with nonsmokers, women who smoke before pregnancy are about twice as likely to
experience the following conditions:
• Delay in conception
• Infertility
• Ectopic pregnancy
• Premature rupture of the membranes
• Placental abruption
• Placenta previa
Compared with babies born to nonsmokers, babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy
are more likely to be:
• Premature
• Low birth weight
• Small for gestational age or fetal growth restricted
• Born with a cleft lip, or cleft palate, or both
• They are also more likely to die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
All tobacco products that are burned contain nicotine and carbon monoxide. These are harmful
during pregnancy. These products include cigarettes, little cigars, cigarillos, and hookah.
Information from
Why is it so dangerous to smoke during pregnancy?
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including truly nasty things like cyanide, lead, and
at least 60 cancer-causing compounds. When you smoke during pregnancy, that toxic brew gets into
your bloodstream, your baby's only source of oxygen and nutrients.
The most serious complications — including stillbirth preterm delivery, and low birth weight — can be
chalked up to the fact that nicotine and carbon monoxide work together to reduce your baby's supply of
oxygen. Nicotine chokes off oxygen by narrowing blood vessels throughout your body, including the
ones in the umbilical cord. It's a little like forcing your baby to breathe through a narrow straw. To make
matters worse, the red blood cells that carry oxygen start to pick up molecules of carbon monoxide
instead. Suddenly, that narrow straw doesn't even hold as much oxygen as it should.
Information from