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Protecting you and your baby

Smoking is the single biggest risk to a healthy pregnancy. If you are pregnant, or are trying for a baby, stopping smoking is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your health, and the health, growth and development of your unborn child.

What are the risks?

Tobacco smoke contains poisonous chemicals. These chemicals enter your bloodstream when you smoke and then pass into the bloodstream of your unborn baby. Smoking whilst you're pregnant means your unborn baby struggles to get enough oxygen and this is linked to complications during pregnancy and labour, still birth, a bleed during pregnancy, congenital abnormalities, miscarriage, premature birth and sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).

Smoking while you are pregnant affects your unborn baby's weight and size, body and lungs, and heart and brain function. A slower growth, and possibly a lower birth weight, is associated with higher risks of death and disease in infancy and early childhood.

More than 80% of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, and it contains over 4,500 chemicals, many of which are irritants or toxic and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. Newborn babies and children exposed to a smoky atmosphere and breathing in harmful poisons are more likely to suffer from the following:

  • slower growth
  • long term respiratory problems (including bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections and middle ear infections that can lead to 'glue' ear and possibly childhood deafness)
  • increased risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when they are older.

It's never too late

The carbon monoxide in a cigarette restricts your unborn baby's oxygen supply, which means your baby's heart has to beat harder and faster every time you smoke. The sooner you stop smoking, the better, but it's never too late and quitting will benefit you and your baby.


If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.

Fact Zone

More than 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible and odourless.
Women who smoke tend to take longer to conceive than women who don't.
In the UK, smoking is responsible for up to 5,000 miscarriages a year.
Smoking is far more damaging for your baby's health than any stress that comes from quitting.
Smoking during pregnancy raises the risk of premature birth.


Helpful Links