Smoking in pregnancy: what are the risks for the baby?

If the cigarette poses a health risk before pregnancy, tobacco is even more harmful to the baby when it is in the womb. But even today the problem of smoking in pregnancy is taboo. Smokers are judged and stigmatized, to the point of not daring to talk about it and ask for help if they cannot quit on their own. Let's start by clarifying the issue.

Before proceeding, however, let's immediately take a look at the many benefits that saying goodbye to cigarettes can give us, as the video below suggests.

1) I am pregnant and cannot quit smoking. Am I the only one in this situation?

Absolutely not! According to statistics, 70% of women who smoke quit smoking during pregnancy. This means 30% fail to give up smoking as the baby develops in the womb. After giving birth, more than half of non-breastfeeding women resume smoking, while 10% of breastfeeding women smoke ...

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2) Does smoking represent a danger to my pregnancy?


  • Not only does smoking have a negative impact on both female and male fertility, but it also increases the chances of ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. The more a woman smokes, the higher the risk.
  • The risk of bleeding during childbirth also increases for smokers compared to non-smoking mothers.
  • Another danger is the premature rupture of the membranes resulting in premature birth: 15% of premature births (and their consequences) would be due to the consumption of cigarettes during pregnancy.

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3) I am pregnant and smoker: what are the risks for my baby?

  • Nicotine reduces blood flow in the placenta, which is essential for the proper growth of the fetus. And if the baby is fed less, it means that he develops and grows less. Smoking is known to cause developmental delays and lower birth weight (up to 350 grams if the number of cigarettes per day is more than 20). And the smaller the baby is, the more fragile it will be.
  • The risk of fetal death also increases, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy: it is linked to developmental delay and placental complications due to smoking. A placenta exposed to smoke is in fact a placenta that is not well oxygenated and fed and therefore does not function properly.
  • Smoking is also linked, as mentioned above, to the risk of prematurity.
  • Carbon monoxide and nicotine cause a decrease in oxygen supply which interferes with the proper functioning of the lungs and heart (which must pump more to make up for the lack of oxygen). These problems persist after birth. Hyperactivity of the bronchi, bronchiolitis, irritative cough, allergies, ear infections, lung diseases ... Babies of mothers who smoke or who smoked during pregnancy develop chronic respiratory disorders much more often and more rapidly than other children (already about one third of these children suffer from it within the year of life.) The risk of asthma is also very high.
  • The risk of cot death is tripled if the baby is exposed to smoke during pregnancy, and exposure to secondhand smoke in the first months of life doubles it.
  • In addition to nicotine and carbon monoxide, by smoking the expectant mother inhales more than four thousand harmful substances that reach the blood from her lungs. From here, through the placenta and the umbilical cord, they reach the developing baby. The risk of malformations increases, as does the cleft lip.
  • If he is regularly exposed to cigarette smoke, the child's immune defenses are lowered. In case of infections, he will be more vulnerable.

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4) And in the future?

  • Studies show that exposure to smoke in the womb is linked to behavioral disorders, such as hyperactivity, and learning difficulties. This is because smoking affects the development of the brain and nervous system.
  • Babies exposed to smoke during pregnancy are more likely to develop bladder and kidney cancer, as these two organs are particularly sensitive to carcinogens as they develop in utero. Children who breathe secondhand smoke in childhood have a four times higher risk of developing nose cancer.

5) I am pregnant and surrounded by people who smoke. Is secondhand smoke dangerous for my baby?

Little is said about the harmfulness of passive smoking, yet for the child who is to be born there is no difference between a non-smoking mother exposed to secondhand smoke and a mother who smokes: the consequences of passive smoking on the fetus are equivalent. the passive smoke breathed in by infants and young children as well as the nicotine taken by the breastfeeding smoking mother, because nicotine passes into breast milk.

6) I am pregnant and I want to quit smoking. What nicotine substitutes can I use?

A pregnant woman has exemplary motivation, and pregnancy may be the right time to quit smoking once and for all.
Nicotine substitutes (patches, tablets, chewing gum) are not prohibited during pregnancy, but before using them it is important to consult a doctor, who will indicate precisely how to take them (doses, times to be respected ...).
Instead, e-cigarettes and drugs should be avoided, as they are dangerous for the fetus.

7) What if I can't stop by myself?

Do not be discouraged and do not feel guilty: speak as soon as possible with your trusted doctor, gynecologist or go to a specialized facility. Psychological support can also be of great help.

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8) It is said that it is better to smoke a few cigarettes than to quit and be nervous and irritable ...

Is a mistake. Because in general it compensates for it by making very deep shots. So in the end the values ​​of nicotine and carbon monoxide in the blood are equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, when the pregnant woman has smoked less than 10 ...

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9) If I am pregnant and I smoke, are my figii at risk of becoming smokers themselves?

It's true: the children of a woman who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to become smokers themselves. In fact, already at birth, nicotine receptors are present in their brains, which make them more sensitive as teenagers and adults not only to this substance, but in general to all psychoactive substances (cannabis, alcohol ...).

Quitting smoking during pregnancy is the greatest gift you can give your baby.

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