an image of a women breaking a cigarette

World No Tobacco Day: The hazards of smoking and second-hand smoke exposure during pregnancy

Today we mark World No Tobacco Day. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. As our key area of focus is the health and wellbeing of women and children, we’re taking this opportunity to highlight the dangers of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Risks associated with smoking during pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy affects you and your baby’s health before and after your baby is born. Exposure to tobacco smoke affects all stages of human reproduction. It is worth mentioning that tobacco smoking affects both male and female fertility. The increased risks associated with maternal cigarette smoking include ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, small for gestational age, and birth defects such as cleft lip. After birth, the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is increased among the babies of women who smoked during or after pregnancy.

Risks associated with second-hand smoke during and after pregnancy
Second-hand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and exhaled smoke. Maternal exposure to second-hand smoke in pregnancy has been associated with a modest reduction in birth weight and can increase the risk of low birth weight by 22%. Second-hand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections and ear infections.

Now’s the time to quit smoking!
Protecting your child from tobacco smoke is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your baby will have a healthy start in life. As second-hand smoke is also harmful to your baby, if you’re planning on becoming pregnant, encourage your partner and close family and friends to quit smoking too.
It’s no secret that quitting can be difficult. Seek the support of a healthcare professional and educate yourself by reading reputable materials to help you quit smoking now.