Smoking cigarettes causes many health problems, including cancers, heart
disease, and lung disease. When a pregnant woman smokes, she puts herself
and her baby at risk. Because the fetus, a developing
infant in the mother's uterus (womb), is in contact
with the mother's bloodstream, any chemicals the mother breathes or ingests
can affect the fetus. This includes tobacco smoke coming from the mother's
smoking or inhaling smoke in the environment (also known as second-hand smoke).
The March 9, 2005, issue of JAMA includes an article
about the harm that smoking during pregnancy can cause.
Low birth weight
Intrauterine (inside the uterus) growth
Premature rupture of membranes (water
bag), which may lead to preterm delivery or an infection affecting the baby
Increased rates of stillbirths, miscarriages, and ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy
Complications during delivery
Do not smoke. If you do smoke, quit before planning a pregnancy.
Take a folic acid supplement to prevent neural tube birth defects
of the fetus.
Do not use illegal drugs.
Do not drink alcohol during pregnancy.
Control chronic medical problems, like diabetes and high blood
pressure. Poor control of these conditions can adversely affect the fetus.
The best way to quit smoking is to stop smoking completely—not
even a puff. Get rid of your cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, or any other
smoking-related items. Keep your hands busy with activities other than smoking.
Take walks, remain active, and drink plenty of water. Ask your doctor for
help. Resources are available for persons who wish to stop smoking.
American Lung Association 800/LUNGUSAhttp://www.lungusa.org
March of Dimes http://www.modimes.org
National Women's Health Information Center 800/994-WOMAN http://www.4woman.gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office on Smoking
and Health 800/232-1311 http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page
Index on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on quitting
smoking was published in the July 24/31, 2002, issue.
Sources: American Lung Association; March of Dimes; National Women's
Health Information Center; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate
in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For
specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied
noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share
with patients. Any other print or online reproduction is subject to AMA approval.
To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.
TOPIC: WOMEN'S HEALTH
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Smoking and Pregnancy. JAMA. 2005;293(10):1286. doi:10.1001/jama.293.10.1286