"Smoking cigarettes is probably the No. 1 cause of adverse outcomes for babies," says Welch, who's the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan. He's seen the complications far too many times: babies born prematurely, babies born too small, babies who die before they can be born at all. In his view, pregnancies would be safer and babies would be healthier if pregnant smokers could somehow swap their habit for a serious disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure.If your health isn't enough to make you quit smoking, then the health of your baby should be. Smoking during pregnancy affects you and your baby's health before, during, and after your baby is born. The nicotine (the addictive substance in cigarettes), carbon monoxide, and numerous other poisons you inhale from a cigarette are carried through your bloodstream and go directly to your baby. Smoking while pregnant will:
- Lower the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby.
- Increase your baby's heart rate.
- Increase the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth.
- Increase the risk that your baby is born prematurely and/or born with low birth weight.
- Increase your baby's risk of developing respiratory (lung) problems.
The more cigarettes you smoke per day, the greater your baby's chances of developing these and other health problems. There is no "safe" level of smoking while pregnant.
How Does Secondhand Smoke Affect Pregnancy?
Secondhand smoke (also called passive smoke or environmental tobacco smoke) is the combination of smoke from a burning cigarette and smoke exhaled by a smoker.
The smoke that burns off the end of a cigarette or cigar actually contains more harmful substances (tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, and others) than the smoke inhaled by the smoker.
If you are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, you increase your and your baby's risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, allergies, asthma, and other health problems.
Babies exposed to secondhand smoke may also develop reduced lung capacity and are at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).