Health Problems for Mom & Baby

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and causes cancers and heart disease.

Smoking during pregnancy also causes many health problems for both you, and your unborn baby.

Health problems for you and your pregnancy may include:

  • Women who smoke have more trouble getting pregnant that women who don't smoke.
  • Women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to have a miscarriage.
  • Smoking doubles your risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. This can put both you and your baby in danger.
  • Smoking can cause ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which the fertilized egg fails to move to the uterus and instead attaches in the fallopian tube or to other organs outside the womb. Ectopic pregnancy almost always causes the fetus to die and poses a serious risk to the mother.
  • Smoking causes issues with the placenta, which is the source of a baby's food and oxygen during pregnancy.

Health problems for your baby may include:

  • Smoking while pregnant can make your baby be born too small, even after a full-term pregnancy.
  • Smoking slows your baby's growth before birth.
  • Your baby may be born too early (premature birth). Premature babies often have health problems.
  • Babies of moms who smoke during pregnancy—and babies who are exposed to smoke after being born—have a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS occurs mostly between the first two to four months of a baby's life, without any signs.
  • Smoking can damage your baby's developing lungs and brain. The damage can last through childhood and into the teen years.
  • Smoking raises your baby's risk for birth defects, including cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. A cleft is an opening in your baby's lip or in the roof of their mouth (palate). He or she can have trouble eating properly and is likely to need surgery.

For more information on the health problems caused by smoking during pregnancy, you can visit the following pages:

  • U.S. Surgeon General's consumer booklet, Let's Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free
  • Secondhand smoke kills too. Children and adults exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get:

    • Pneumonia
    • Ear infections
    • Bronchitis
    • Severe asthma

    To learn more about secondhand smoke, see Secondhand Smoke Kills.

    If you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant, and you smoke, talk to your health care provider to get the help you need with your smoking addiction.