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Smoking While Pregnant: Learn the Facts

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Did you know that one out of 10 pregnant women smoke, and that two thirds of female smokers continue to smoke while pregnant? That adds up to about 500,000 births to women who smoke per year – and 500,000 babies whose health could be negatively affected. Read on to learn more.

How Bad Is Smoking While Pregnant?

There is no safe level of exposure to the unborn baby. Even cutting down the number of cigarettes or changing the type of cigarettes smoked can negatively affect the baby.

Why is this? Many toxins and chemicals found in cigarette smoke like carbon monoxide and nicotine can be passed to the baby through the placenta. This can deprive the baby of the food and oxygen he or she needs to develop properly.

Babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy tend to be underweight and are at a greater risk of needing special care after delivery. Some may even die at birth or within the first year of life.

Some of the effects of smoking may not show up initially but may begin to present themselves as the baby develops. For example, children born of mothers that smoked during pregnancy may also have learning difficulties and/or behavioral problems.

How Can the Baby Be Affected?

Almost every developing organ system in the baby’s body is affected by the chemicals found in cigarette smoke. This increases the risk of complications such as: placental previa; placental abruption; shorter gestational periods (premature births); spontaneous abortions (miscarriages); still births; and, abnormal brain development.

    The baby is also at a greater risk for: SIDS; smaller head circumference; cleft lip and cleft palate; heart defects; hearing problems; cognitive deficits; lower I.Q.; and, behavioral disturbances.

      Ready to Quit?

      Stopping smoking as early as possible in the pregnancy – or before even getting pregnant – is the best way to ensure good health for both baby and mother.

      Are you ready to quit? We’re ready to help! Ochsner’s Smoking Cessation Clinic offers a comprehensive smoking cessation program that provides a risk-free way to quit smoking.

      Schedule an appointment with Ochsner’s Smoking Cessation Clinic today.

      Editor's note: This blog was originally published on March 28, 2019 and has since been updated. 

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