Baby on the Way? Keep Smoking at Bay
Through your pregnancy a few simple cells will grow to form your baby. Organs like the heart, lungs, and brain go through intense periods of development. You can imagine how important it is to have the right building blocks for all of this growth. Nutrients and oxygen that support a growing fetus are passed from mother to fetus through an organ called the placenta.
Unfortunately dangerous substances like recreational drugs, alcohol, and chemicals from smoking can also pass through the placenta to your baby. Chemicals from smoke are absorbed into the blood from the mom’s lungs. Many of the chemicals are not only toxic but also interfere with the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the baby. These chemicals can cause serious and chronic illnesses in adults and children. In a developing baby, the chemicals can also affect how the brain, lungs, heart, and other organs develop. Some health issues may be seen at birth while others can develop later in a baby’s life. Fortunately, it is never too late to give your baby the best start to a healthy life.
Researchers do not yet fully understand how every chemical in smoke affects a growing baby. But they do know that the health risks are high. If you smoke, you are more likely to have pregnancy complications that put both you and your baby at risk. Complications for you may include:
- Pelvic pain
- Early rupture of the membranes
- Placental problems, such as detachment, tearing, or slipping
- Premature births—If you quit smoking soon after becoming pregnant, your risk of having a premature birth becomes similar to that of mothers who are nonsmokers.
Also smoking while pregnant puts your baby at a higher risk for serious complications such as:
- Being born underweight
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders
- Congenital heart defects
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.