March 2022

How Does Smoking Affect Pregnancy

We all know the dangers and serious health implications that smoking can cause on our bodies – but how do these ill-effects translate to a developing baby and mother during pregnancy?



Tobacco smoking is one of the world’s leading causes of preventable deaths, killing more than half of its users, and around 8 million people worldwide every year. [1] All forms of tobacco are harmful, and there’s no safe level of exposure to tobacco.

Smoking during pregnancy exposes both you and your unborn child to many deadly chemicals that limit the baby’s supply of oxygen and the delivery of nutrients that are vital for life. Nicotine (the addictive chemical compound found in tobacco) can permanently damage a baby’s brain and lungs. [2] It can also lead to several other negative health conditions and birth defects that can be life-threatening.



Other than the widely known health effects that smoking can cause on adults such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes to name a few, it will also negatively impact your baby’s health during pregnancy too. These include detrimental problems such as:



Smoking can cause fertility problems for both men and women. Women who smoke don’t conceive as effectively as non-smokers, and men who smoke run the risk of damaging their sperm, which can contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). [5][6]


smoking and pregnancy



Absolutely! If you’re a smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do in order to reduce the risk of your baby being born with any health problems.

The best time to quit smoking is before you get pregnant but stopping at any point during pregnancy will greatly help your baby and stop it from developing any birth defects or health conditions. This also means you should avoid being around cigarette smoke as second-hand smoke can be just as harmful.

If you’re having trouble quitting smoking and don’t think you can do it alone, it’s important that you seek the correct help and surround yourself with people that can support you. There are many services such as the NHS that can guide you and give you further advice on how to quit.

Staying smoke-free is important – especially for your developing infant’s health. It’s never too late to quit smoking, even if you’re halfway through pregnancy, and stopping now with the right help will give your baby the best possible chance at life.




[1] Tobacco (

[2] Nicotine | Brain and Body Effects, Addiction, How It Affects Health (

[3] Cleft lip and palate - NHS (

[4] About SIDS and SUID | CDC

[5] Smoking and Infertility (

[6] Smoking, Pregnancy, and Babies | Overviews of Diseases/Conditions | Tips From Former Smokers | CDC