Maternal and Infant Care Settings and Smoking Cessation

At a glance

Smoking cessation improves reproductive health. Health care professionals, particularly those in obstetric care, should treat patients’ tobacco use and dependence.

Young asian pregnant woman lying on sofa at home looking at the ultrasound scan photo of her baby

Smoking causes poor reproductive health outcomes

Cigarette smoking before or during pregnancy can affect the likelihood of pregnancy, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and the health of mother and baby. Maternal smoking causes:

  • Reduced fertility.
  • Pregnancy complications, including premature rupture of membranes, placenta previa, placental abruption, ectopic pregnancy, and preterm delivery. Research also suggests that smoking may cause miscarriage.
  • Fetal growth restriction and low birth weight.
  • Congenital malformations like orofacial clefts.
  • Adverse effects on fetal lung and brain development.
  • Stillbirth and perinatal mortality.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Maternal exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy causes small reductions in birth weight. Research also suggests it may cause preterm delivery. Infants exposed to secondhand smoke are at higher risk for SIDS, middle ear disease, lower respiratory illness, and decreased lung function.

Help your pregnant patients quit smoking

If you have patients who smoke and are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you can play a key role in helping them quit—for their health and the health of their baby. Learn how to help your patients quit for good:

Smoking and reproductive health: what health care professionals need to know

Smoking cessation improves reproductive health outcomes

Smoking cessation is one of the most important actions women who smoke can take for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. The best time for women to quit smoking is before they try to get pregnant. But quitting at any time during pregnancy can benefit the health of both the mother and the baby.

The reproductive health benefits of smoking cessation include:

  • Smoking cessation during pregnancy reduces the effects of smoking on fetal growth. Cessation early in pregnancy eliminates the adverse effects of smoking on fetal growth.
  • Smoking cessation before or during early pregnancy reduces the risk for a small-for-gestational-age birth.
  • Research suggests that smoking cessation may reduce the risk of preterm delivery.

Clinical interventions to treat tobacco use and dependence among adults‎

Resources for maternal health care teams