Quitting tobacco use is one of the most important actions a woman can take to improve the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Smoking during pregnancy continues to threaten the health of mothers and babies across the nation. It is estimated that more than 426,000 women smoke during pregnancy each year in the US, including thousands of women in Connecticut.

Tobacco use, especially, smoking during and after pregnancy, dramatically increases the risk for a range of health problems for the mother and her baby. Nicotine narrows or constricts the blood vessels in the umbilical cord and womb, which limits the amount of oxygen received by the unborn baby. This reduces the amount of blood in the baby’s system and can cause low birth weight at delivery.  Babies born with low birth weight are at greater risk for childhood and adulthood illnesses and death. 


If You Smoke While You are Pregnant:

   Toxic chemicals you breathe in from

   cigarettes can harm you and your baby.

Secondhand & Thirdhand Smoke:

   Toxic chemicals that you breathe in from

   someone else's cigarette, or smoke that has

   lingered in the air and settled on to surfaces

   still can harm you and your baby.

Smoking during pregnancy can also lead to placenta abruption, where the placenta comes away from the wall of the womb too early.  This can lead to preterm delivery, stillbirth and early infant death. A women who smoke during pregnancy are at a higher risk for placenta previa.  This is where the placenta, the organ that nourishes the baby, grows to close too the opening of the uterus or womb.  Often, this condition requires the baby to be delivered by caesarean section. Additional risks of tobacco use during pregnancy include:

     ·      Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) 
·      Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
·      Conception Delay and Infertility
·      Ectopic Pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus)
·      Premature Delivery
·      Low Birth Weight and Growth Retardation
·      Stillbirth and Infant Mortality

Breastfeeding and Tobacco Use

Nicotine and other chemicals found in tobacco and tobacco smoke can be passed to the baby through breast milk. It is best for a mother not to use tobacco. However, if a mother cannot quit, it is better for her to breastfeed than formula feed since her baby is at higher risk of having respiratory problems and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Breastfeeding can lower the risk of both of these health problems. Breastfeeding mothers who smoke may experience a reduction in their milk production.


Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Using Loving Support To Grow and Glow in WIC: Breastfeeding Training for Local WIC Staff, 2009   


All children should be protected from secondhand and thirdhand smoke.  Never allow smoking near them, in the house, or in the car.



pregnant woman

When planning a pregnancy, a woman should quit tobacco before becoming pregnant.  Women who are using tobacco and are pregnant should talk with their health care provider to discuss the best way to quit tobacco and

contact the CT Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) for help.


Pregnancy & Preconception Health

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
baby shoes
Breathing secondhand smoke increases the risk for an infant to die of SIDS. Chemicals in the smoke appear to affect the part of the infant’s brain that regulates their breathing.6



Pregnancy Resources

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Pregnancy and Smoking (1.14 MB pdf)

Tobacco Smoke and Your Baby

DPH WIC (Women, Infants & Children) Program

Postpartum Support International (CT chapter)


Learn more about:

Effects of Second Hand and Environmental Tobacco Smoke



THE EFFECTS OF TOBACCO USE (children) and                                             



 The National Partnership for Smoke Free Families- www.smokefreefamilies.tobacco-cessation.org/



6 CDC- http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/

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