When Pregnant Women Smoke: Three Health Concerns For The Baby

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Women who smoke are setting themselves up to have many adverse health effects including decreased bone density, severe forms of arthritis, gum disease, ulcers, and depression. When a woman chooses to smoke while pregnant, not only are they harming themselves, but they have the potential to harm their unborn baby. Here are three health concerns for a baby if the mother smoked while pregnant.

Congenital Heart Defect

Each year 40,000 newborns in the United States are affected by some type of congenital heart defect, making it the most common type of birth defect. While there are many instances when the cause of a heart defect cannot be determined, smoking is one thing that has been proven to cause this type of birth defect in babies. Women who smoke in the month before getting pregnant, and into the first trimester, increase the chances of having a baby born with a congenital heart defect by 60%. Treatment options for babies born with congenital heart defects include:


There are millions of children under the age of 18 who are diagnosed with asthma. Some kids develop symptoms by the age of 3, and even babies can have asthma. When a pregnant woman smokes, she can increase the chances of her child having asthma by 65%. Asthma is a disease in the lungs that causes airways to swell and tighten, making it difficult to breathe. Some of the symptoms of asthma include:

Some common types of asthma treatments include breathing machines, steroids, medications, inhalers, and bronchodilators. If your child is born with asthma, you will need to take them to a clinic like Cookingham Allergy & Asthma Associates, P.C. for treatment.

Cleft Lip/Clip Palate

When a pregnant woman smokes and their unborn baby lacks the GSTT1 gene, it greatly increases the chances their baby will be born with a cleft lip and/or palate. This particular gene helps in the process of detoxifying cigarette smoke. Each year, 750 babies in the United States are born with a cleft lip and/or palate. This condition is characterized by an oral or facial malformation. In order to correct it, this condition often requires several surgeries. Other forms of treatment may include dental care, specialized orthodontics, speech therapy, and possible ear tube surgery.

When a woman smokes, not only are they putting their own health at risk, but if they are pregnant, they are putting their baby at risk of having a serious medical condition including a congenital heart defect, asthma, or a cleft lip/palate.