Although fewer women are smoking during pregnancy now than ever before, the habit still persists among many women. In addition, even if a pregnant woman does not smoke, she may be exposed to secondhand smoke in the household, workplace, or in social settings.
Smoke can be damaging to a fetus in several ways, and may cause the following:
Subsequently, babies born to smokers may also have the following problems:
The mother, too, may experience problems during her pregnancy as a result of smoking, including the following:
Researchers believe the effects of carbon monoxide (which reduces oxygen in the blood) and nicotine (which stimulates certain hormones) cause many of these adverse effects.
Babies of mothers who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have reduced fetal growth and low birthweight.
However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if a woman quits smoking early in her pregnancy, she increases her chance of delivering a healthy baby.