Dangers of Smoking During Pregnancy

Risks to Your Baby

Smoking during pregnancy, which can seriously slow fetal growth, nearly doubles a woman's risk of having a baby with low birth weight. In 1998, 12 percent of babies born to smokers in the U.S. were of low birth weight, compared to 7.2 percent of babies of nonsmokers.

Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also suggest that smoking increases the risk of preterm delivery (before 37 weeks of gestation) by about 30 percent. It also increases the likelihood of certain birth defects, including a cleft lip and/or cleft palate (an opening in the roof of the mouth or the soft tissue in the back of the mouth).

Babies who weigh less than 5-1/2 pounds at birth face an increased risk of serious health problems during the newborn period, chronic disabilities (such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and learning problems), and even death.

Babies of mothers who smoke are twice as likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as babies of nonsmokers. Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke before birth also may be at increased risk of lasting problems, including asthma, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.

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