How does Smoking during Pregnancy affect the Baby?

The adverse effects of smoking by an expecting mother on her growing baby are many. Not only does the baby become undersized, the development of its lungs, heart and brain is also seriously affected.

Vatsal Anand
PregnancyWritten by: Vatsal AnandPublished at: Apr 25, 2013
How does Smoking during Pregnancy affect the Baby?

The smoke from a cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals that include cyanide and at least 60 cancer causing compounds. By smoking during the time of your pregnancy you are brewing toxic chemicals in your bloodstream, and this is your baby’s only source of oxygen and nutrients.


cigarette smoking during pregnancy

Smoking is a strict no-no during pregnancy as it affects the growing baby severely. The nicotine of the cigarettes causes spasms in the arteries. Since the supply of blood to the placenta is through these arteries, any obstruction will deprive the baby of its essential oxygen and nutrient supply. This will lead to low birth weight of the baby. Smokers are two times more likely to deliver a baby that weighs less than 5 and half pounds compared to non-smokers.

This is not all; there are a lot of other risks to the baby including deformity of body and lungs, heart complications and effect on brain function.


Weight and Size

It has been found that on an average a pack a day during pregnancy will reduce weight from your baby’s net birth weight. The more you smoke the more weight your baby loses during birth, and so smoking is completely out of the question if you want your baby to be healthy during birth. Reducing the baby’s weight in the womb can have some bad consequences later on in life.


Those pregnant women who smoke in the first trimester of pregnancy are more likely to have a heart defect at birth. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in February 2012 that said that these babies risk of having certain types of congenital heart defects and this risk of 20 to 70 per cent higher in them than from babies whose moms do not smoke. Their heart could have problems in blood flow from the right side of the heart into the lungs and obstruction in the blood flow between the upper chambers of the heart.

Body and Lungs

Babies who are undersize happen to have underdeveloped bodies, and their lungs are not ready to work on their own. This could force them to spend the first days or weeks attached to a respirator. But the problem is that even after they are breathing on their own these babies may continue to have breathing problems, because of a delay in the development of their lung or other reverse effects of nicotine. These children are also vulnerable to asthma and have double or triple the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Brain Function

By smoking during pregnancy a woman is putting her child’s brain in the risk of getting effected. Children of pregnant smokers also do have learning disorders, behavioral problems and low IQs.

It can be well understood how smoking during pregnancy affects the baby. With scores of harmful chemicals making up a cigarette, it is reason enough to consider quitting for good. If you still needed a better reason, you have one!


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