Dangers Of Smoking During Pregnancy

Cigarette smoke is toxic and contains dangerous chemical compounds; some are known to be poisonous, like cyanide and lead, and some are believed to be cancer-causing compounds. Other than cancer, smoking side effects on the body include diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, second-hand smoke is also dangerous to breathe, whether a smoker or a non-smoker.

The risk is even greater in pregnant women because these poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke can harm your unborn child’s health. Read to learn more about the effects of smoking on both mother and the developing child she is carrying and other associated smoking effects on pregnancy.   

Why is it hazardous to smoke during pregnancy?

Smoking during pregnancy is considered extremely harmful, not only for the mother but for the developing child also. Because of the ill effects of smoking during pregnancy, expectant mothers should avoid active and passive smoking.

Smoking affects pregnancy in many ways.  
  • It can damage the tissues of the unborn baby, particularly in the brain and lungs, and some research suggests an association between cleft lip and smoking tobacco during pregnancy.
  • Smoking in pregnancy is linked with several adverse developmental outcomes in the offspring. These include spontaneous abortion, preterm delivery, growth disturbance, increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and long-term psychiatric disorders.
  • Tobacco effects on pregnancy are not over here; smoking can also affect the cognitive development and behavior of the exposed child. However, the underlying physiological mechanisms for these harmful effects of smoking cigarettes during pregnancy are not fully understood.

Pregnant women must be warned of smoking effects on pregnancy and abstain for healthy fetal development.

The ill effects of cigarette smoking are this high that smoking is now one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK. Tobacco side effects include inflammation and decreased immune function. Smoking and pregnancy don’t mix at all. A mother risks her health and pushes her developing baby towards unnecessary health dangers by smoking. When a pregnant mother smokes during pregnancy, the toxic smoke enters the blood, and your baby only requires oxygen and nutrients to grow healthy. Quitting smoking during pregnancy can make a huge difference in your baby’s life. You must know smoking affects almost every body part.

Women should be aware of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy. Cigarettes, cigars, and hookahs all contain dangerous tobacco levels that can threaten the young life breathing inside the mother’s womb. Cigarettes contain about 600 different detrimental ingredients. According to the American Lung Association report, about 7000 chemicals are produced in cigarettes when it burns, and 69 can cause cancer.

'Pregnant woman holding a lit cigarette with a red circle and slash symbol over it. The image highlights the risks and dangers associated with smoking while pregnant, including increased likelihood of premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, stillbirth, and various health complications for both the mother and the unborn child.

Here are the dangers associated with women smoking during pregnancy, and those trying to get pregnant should also be aware that smoking causes these health effects.

1. Woman’s fertility is hampered

It is a stark truth that those women who are trying to conceive but are addicted to smoking find it difficult to get pregnant, as smoking dramatically reduces the fertility of both men and women. More than 60% of women who smoke are more likely to be infertile than women who do not.

2. Miscarriage and stillbirth

Miscarriage is one of the most shocking and tragic events that can happen in a woman’s life. Miscarriages are the tragic pregnancy loss in the first three months. But in some rare cases, pregnancy loss can occur after 20 weeks of gestation. This condition is called a stillbirth. These two can be severe effects of smoking during pregnancy.

3. Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is yet another consequence of smoking during pregnancy. In this kind of pregnancy, the fertilized embryo implants outside the uterus anywhere in the fallopian tube or the abdomen. Nicotine can cause contractions in the fallopian tube and prevent the embryo from moving into the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition to the mother, and the ectopic embryo must be removed to save the mother’s life.

4. Placental abruption

The placenta is the structure that forms after embryo implantation in the uterus to provide oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. The placenta is an important structure until childbirth, but placental abruption can easily occur in several conditions involving mothers smoking during pregnancy. Placental abruption is when the placenta separates from the uterus before childbirth, which may cause severe bleeding and a life threat to the child and the mother.

5. Placenta previa

It is the condition that occurs in one in 200 pregnancy cases. In normal cases, the placenta gradually moves upward from the cervix to allow the natural opening for childbirth. However, if the parents, especially the mother, smoke during pregnancy, the placenta may partially or completely cover the cervix. Such a condition is called placenta prevails, which can cause excessive bleeding and deprive the fetus of oxygen and nutrition.

6. Birth defects

It is yet another harmful aspect of mothers smoking during pregnancy. In about 20-70% of cases where pregnant mothers smoke, congenital disabilities like heart problems, cleft lip, cleft palate, etc., are found to occur in the child.

7. Low Birth Weight

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with the lower birth weight of the child. Low birth weight doesn’t just mean delivering a small baby. Still, it means the newborn might suffer from serious health conditions like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, or vision/ hearing ailments.

8. Brain function problems

Smoking during pregnancy can have a long-term effect on the child’s brain. It is reported that the children of smokers are likely to have behavioural disorders or relatively low IQs.

The risk of smoking side effects increases the more you smoke. However, many women opt to quit smoking during pregnancy; they report quitting spontaneously when pregnancy is confirmed, often within the initial days. Factors associated with smoking cessation include living with a non-smoking partner, reduction in cigarette smoking, quit attempts that were successful in the past, and more awareness of tobacco side effects. Quitting smoking can be tough, but it is one of the best ways a woman can protect her and her baby from the harmful effects of smoking.


Remember, motherhood is not only a heavenly experience but also a responsibility. If you are a smoker or in case the people around you smoke, you should discourage smoking to protect yourself and your child from the health effects of smoking during pregnancy. Every cigarette you smoke amplifies the risks to your pregnancy. Many smoking cessation programs can help you to quit smoking.   

Also Read: How does exercise benefit fertility and pregnancy?

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