Smoking During Pregnancy

Sonogram of fetus with the text: Smoking while pregnant puts your baby at risk for certain birth defects. Quitting smoking can help lower the risk for certain birth defects.
  • Smoking reduces a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.1,2
  • Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk for pregnancy complications.1,2
  • Tobacco smoke harms babies before and after they are born.1,3

Health Effects of Smoking and Secondhand Smoke on Pregnancies

Pregnant woman lying on her back on the grass
  • Women who smoke have more difficulty becoming pregnant and have a higher risk of never becoming pregnant.2,4
  • Smoking during pregnancy can cause tissue damage in the unborn baby, particularly in the lung and brain, and some studies suggests a link between maternal smoking and cleft lip.1,2
  • Studies also suggest a relationship between tobacco and miscarriage. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke can keep the developing baby from getting enough oxygen. Tobacco smoke also contains other chemicals that can harm unborn babies.1,2

Health Effects of Smoking and Secondhand Smoke on Babies

Baby in an incubator
  • Mothers who smoke are more likely to deliver their babies early. Preterm delivery is a leading cause of death, disability, and disease among newborns.1,2
  • One in every five babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy has low birth weight. Mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have lower birth weight babies. Babies born too small or too early are not as healthy.1,2,3
  • Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.1,2,3 Babies whose mothers smoke are about three times more likely to die from SIDS.1
  • Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than other babies, which increases the risk for many health problems.1,2,3
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2012 May 10].
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: Highlights: Overview of Finding Regarding Reproductive Healthpdf icon. [PDF–542 KB]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2012 May 10].
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General: Secondhand Smoke: What It Means To You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006 [accessed 2012 May 10].
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004 [accessed 2012 June 15].