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What Are the Risks of Smoking During Pregnancy?

I'm pregnant with my first child. But I'm worried because I've been a smoker since college and am afraid I won't be able to quit. How could smoking affect the pregnancy?
- Michelle

You wouldn't light a cigarette, put it in your baby's mouth, and encourage your little one to puff away. As ridiculous as this scenario seems, pregnant women who continue to smoke are allowing their fetus to smoke too. The smoking mother passes nicotine and carbon monoxide to her growing baby.

If a pregnant woman smokes, it could cause:

  • stillbirth
  • prematurity
  • low birth weight
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • asthma and other respiratory problems

As hard as quitting can be for many people, it's crucial to stop smoking as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor about options for quitting. Not only will you be keeping your unborn baby healthier, you'll also be well on your way to being healthier yourself!

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2012