The Dangers of Smoking During Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably figured out that it’s not all about you anymore. Baby takes priority in what you eat, drink and do—including pleasure habits like smoking.

Smoking at all is a great risk for your own health, but it’s extremely dangerous for your unborn baby. Saying no is the best choice you could make right now.

In a new report of pregnant women released in February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sheds light on just how much of a problem this is.

Is Baby Powder Dangerous?

The report states that, in 2016, 1 out of every 14 women admitted to smoking during their pregnancy. On average, that number plays out to about 7 percent of American mothers.

To make things worse, a few states fell much higher than the national average, especially West Virginia which found 25 percent of its pregnant women smoking. Of all the age groups, women younger than 30 tended to continue their habit the most.

This new information could mean that women are simply taking chances. Or it could mean that doctors and experts need to do more to raise awareness.

The latter is a step that those concerned can more easily control.

The Dangers

What this report shows is that women may not know how dangerous smoking is for a developing baby.

According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), this habit could increase the risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight and even death during infancy.

These possibilities are not unlikely, either. Let’s take a closer look:

Preterm birth

Think that going into labor early is a good thing? It might get you out of pregnancy faster, but baby needs those last few weeks.

According to the CDC, babies born early, especially before 32 weeks, have a much higher risk for infant death. In 2015, as many as 17 percent of pre-term births with a low birth weight ended in death.

Technically, a preterm birth is considered any labor that occurs before 37 weeks. This condition can lead to problems with breathing and feeding as well as developmental or physical issues.  

Low birth weight

Then, because the baby gains much-needed weight in the last few weeks of pregnancy, preterm birth is often associated with a low birth weight.

According to the March of Dimes, low birth weight is defined as any baby that weighs less than 5.5 pounds at birth. Other than preterm birth, the baby may also weigh less because something slowed or stopped their rate of growth.

For women who smoke, March of Dimes states that the risk of a low birth weight baby increases two-fold. The baby may then suffer from chronic conditions later on such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Of all the risks for smoking during pregnancy, SIDS is the most tragic. SIDS happens when a baby dies unexpectedly, and doctors cannot find any known reason.

The American Lung Association states that continuing to smoke during pregnancy could spike the risk for SIDS 5 times higher than the norm.

Premature birth also increases the risk for unexplained infant death. In addition, you should note that the risk for SIDS increases for smoking mothers during and after pregnancy.

If you’re having a baby, it might just be time to kick the habit for good.

How Much Is Too Much?

Last, you might think that a smoke every now and then can’t hurt baby that much. You’re wrong.

The APA attests that both second- and third-hand smoke will affect the baby, and neither include the mother directly smoking herself. Third-hand smoke is the residue that’s left behind during a smoke session, and it builds up over time.

The American Lung Association also reaffirms how exposure to second-hand smoke still increases the risk for SIDS as well.

Again, if second- and third-hand smoke can cause problems, then smoking directly—even a little—could jeopardize your baby’s health. The risk you’re taking is that you don’t know how much.

In light of this new report and all of the risks involved, just say no to smoking during pregnancy. One or two cigarettes could put your baby in danger for health problems at birth or down the road. It’s just not worth the risk.