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Published on June 01, 2009

The Effects of Smoking During and After Pregnancy

When you inhale a cigarette, toxins—such as nicotine and carbon monoxide—cross over into the placenta. The placenta, which is the tissue that connects you to your baby, provides oxygen and nutrients and eliminates wastes. Toxins from cigarette smoke keep your baby from getting the nutrients he or she needs to grow properly.

According to the March of Dimes, smoking increases the risk of preterm delivery by one to two times. Smoking during pregnancy accounts for 20 percent of low birth weight babies and can even be associated with stillbirth.

Even after you deliver your baby, it is important to stay smoke-free. Parents shouldn’t smoke in the home and should ask visitors to refrain from smoking as well. The March of Dimes also states that babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke suffer from more ear infections and respiratory illnesses, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Babies who are exposed to their parents’ secondhand smoke after birth may also face an increased risk of asthma and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  

Smoking can harm mom’s health as well. Smokers have an increased risk of lung and other cancers, stroke, heart disease and emphysema—a potentially disabling and sometimes deadly lung condition. Quitting smoking makes parents healthier and better role models for their children.  

For information about how to quit smoking and for information about maternity services offered through Crozer-Keystone Health System, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visit    

Reviewed by Amy Nathans, CNM, midwife with the Midwives of Delaware County. Office located in Upper Darby, Pa., (610) 284-3300.

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