Where We Stand: Smoking During Pregnancy

The American Academy of Pediatric's message is clear—don’t smoke when pregnant, and protect yourself and your children from secondhand tobacco smoke. Many studies have shown that if a woman smokes or is exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy, her child may be born too early (prematurely) or be smaller than normal. Other effects caused by smoking during pregnancy may include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), depressed breathing movements while in the uterus, learning problems, respiratory disorders, and heart disease as an adult.

After birth, children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke have more respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, poor lung function, and asthma than children who aren’t exposed. Smoke exposure is most dangerous for younger children because they spend more time in close proximity to parents or other smokers, and they have immature lungs.

If you smoke, quit. Ask your child’s pediatrician or your primary care doctor for free help, or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. If you can’t quit, don’t expose your child to smoke—make your home and car completely smoke-free. The Academy supports legislation that would prohibit smoking in public places, including outdoor public places that children frequent. The Academy also supports banning tobacco advertising, harsher warning labels on cigarette packages, attaching an “R” rating to movies depicting tobacco use, FDA regulation of nicotine, insurance coverage for smoking-cessation counseling, and increases in cigarette excise taxes.

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