Smoking and Pregnancy

Women who stopped smoking before or during early pregnancy greatly decrease their risk of several potential severe health problems.

Compared with women who do not smoke-

  • women who smoke before pregnancy are twice as likely to experience conception delay and are approximately 30 percent more likely to become infertile.
  • women who smoke during pregnancy are twice as likely to have premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption, and placenta previa during pregnancy.

Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy-

  • are 30 percent more likely to be born prematurely.
  • are more likely to be born with low birth weight (less than 5.5 lbs), thus increasing their risk for diseases or death.
  • weigh an average of 200 g less than babies born to women who do not smoke.
  • are 1.4 to 3 times more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

Prevalence of smoking during pregnancy

In a 2004 Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS) data from data from 26 states, it is reported that-

  • Approximately 13 percent of women reported smoking during the last three months of pregnancy.
  • Younger, less educated, non-Hispanic, white women and Native American Indian women are more likely to smoke during pregnancy than their older, more educated counterparts.
  • Of the women who admitted to smoking during the last three months of pregnancy, 52 percent reported smoking 5 sticks or less per day. 27 percent reported smoking 6-10 sticks per day. 21 percent smoked 11 or more sticks per day.

Secondhand smoke and pregnancy

Aside from quitting smoking, it is also necessary for women who are pregnant/ who want to be pregnant to avoid secondhand smoke. The risks of exposure to secondhand smoke include premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke.

  • From 1988 to 2002, cotinine levels (a biological indicator of tobacco smoke exposure) decreased by about 70 percent among children and adults who do not smoke. However, in 2002, nearly about half of children and non-smoking adults still have perceptible levels of cotinine.
  • Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke are 20 percent more likely to give birth to a low birth weight baby than those who are not exposed.
  • Children are at a higher risk or exposure to secondhand smoke than adults.
  • From 1999 to 2002, nearly 40 million or 58 percent of children between 3-19 years of age were exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more susceptible to SIDS compared to infants who are not exposed.
  • Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at a higher risk for bronchitis, pneumonia, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth, as well as ear infections.

Source: CDC