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Smoking During Pregnancy (SDP) – 2019 Statistics & How to Stop It?

According to Wikipedia, for every 100 U.S adults, age 18 or older, more than 15 smoked cigarettes in 2016. In other words, there are about 37.8 million cases of cigarette smokers in the United States. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for approximately 443,000 deaths, or 1 of every 5 deaths, in the United States each year.

Everyone knows the harmful effects of smoking on smokers because these things are constantly being pointed out by the media and newspapers. However, have you ever wondered how cigarettes will affect a pregnant woman, especially affecting her child?

Every year in the United States, there are millions of women who smoke during their pregnancy and this causes a great effect on the babies in the womb. This article will show those consequences and give orientations on how to quit smoking for pregnant mothers.

Overview of smoking While pregnancy in the US

Ethnicity of SDP woman

  • Non-Hispanics/ Native Americans account for 19.7% of women that smoke during pregnancy, ranking as the highest ethnicity
  • 10.5% of white women smoked, 6.0% of pregnant women were black
  • 4.5% were Native Hawaiian.
  • Only 0.6% Asian-American is the lowest ethnicity of all smoke while pregnant, the lowest ethnicity of all.

Age of SDP woman

  • About 7.5% of all pregnant women smoke during pregnancy.
  • 10.7% of pregnant women of age 20-24 smoke during pregnancy, ranking as the highest age group.
  • After 25, pregnant women tend to stop smoking as they getting older.

Educational Level of SDP woman

  • 11.7% of less than high school educated women smoked during pregnancy
  • 12.2% of highschool educated women smoked during pregnancy
  • 7.9% of women with some college or an associates degree SDP.
  • 1.0% with a bachelors degree smoked during pregnancy
  • 0.4% with a master or higher SDP.

Portions of each period of pregnancy

  • About 11.6% of mothers smoke before pregnancy.
  • Only 5.7% of mothers continue smoking after pregnancy.
  • About 1 in 3 women who quit during their pregnancy relapse after they giving birth a new baby.

Portions of SDP woman by states

  • The prevalence of smoking during pregnancy was highest in West Virginia (25.1%) followed by Kentucky (18.4%).
  • Montana (16.5%), Vermont (15.5%), and Missouri (15.3%) are the next stages that have the highest portions.
  • These 5 states account for more than half of the total women in the US smoke during pregnancy.
  • Only 1.6% woman in California smoke during pregnancy. This state is the one that has the lowest portions of mothers smoke during pregnancy.
  • The South-West states have a very low portion of SDP women

The risks and impacts of SDP

The risks that mothers and babies may have when mother smoke during pregnancy

  • About 25% of mothers that smoke during pregnancy gives birth to a low weight baby. Compared to the non-smoking mothers’ babies, these babies are 320g lighter on average.
  • 47% of stillbirths are caused by SDP. Mothers who smoke ≥21 cigarettes a day doubles the risk of stillbirth as compared with those that never smoke.
  • The risk of SIDS increases by 10%. Infants of mothers who smoked during pregnancy had a greater risk of death.
  • Preterm membrane rupture accounts for 14% of births due to SDP. Smoking cigarettes resulted in an increased risk of the preterm membrane at about 4%
  • 6.8% of smoking mothers experience hypertension 
  • 28.1% of smoking mothers will experience bleeding 
  • 29.6% of smoking mothers will experience premature labor
  • 10% of smoking mothers will experience infant deaths.

Harmful Chemicals in Cigarettes that can be transferred into the baby


Interferes with brain and lung development

Carbon Monoxide

Causes fetal death or fetal brain damage


Lowers the amount of oxygen that is reaching the baby


Causes setups brain abnormalities


It will cause a diabetogenic effect on you and the baby


Can inflame your child’s airways

Smoke During Pregnancy

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How other types of smoking affect the baby’s health during pregnancy

smoker 0 1 3

First-hand smoke

As you have known, the smoke and all the toxic chemicals are drawn directly into the body of the baby through the bloodstream from smoking which weakens lung and brain of the baby, cleft lip, and miscarriage.

First-hand smoke is the most dangerous type of smoking since the baby will absorb all the toxic ingredients and be affected by them directly. Due to the impacts of first-hand smoking on the baby, mothers should avoid smoking during pregnancy at all costs.


Secondhand smoke

Smoke inhaled involuntarily from tobacco being smoked by others. Although second-hand smoking is not as dangerous as first-hand smoking, however, the exhalation from smoking as well as the emissions from the item being smoked which can cause low birth weight, learning, and behavioral deficiencies, or a miscarriage.

Second-hand smoking is also dangerous with the baby and the mother during pregnancy so other people around the mother should not smoke and if there is anyone smoke, mothers should not stay close to that person.

smoke in room 480

Third-hand smoke

The toxins that cling to hair, clothing, curtains, furniture, carpets, and auto upholstery. This type of smoking depends on the environment around the mother so it can not be prevented wholly. This can lead to respiratory illnesses for the baby after birth and a higher risk of SIDS.

As one of the prevention method, mothers can improve the quality of the surrounding environment to avoid this type of smoking.  For example, cleaning the house frequently, get rid of old carpets or furniture.

Simple campaign to stop smoking during pregnancy

The first period: 3-4 weeks before pregnancy

Benefits of stop smoking at this period

When mothers stop smoking before pregnancy about 3-4 weeks and do not smoke a single cigarette during pregnancy, there is guaranteed no harmful impact on the baby.

The baby and the pregnancy period will happen normally and healthy as never smoking mothers.

How to quit smoking during this period

  • Firstly, rid your home of cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters.
  • Secondly, thoroughly clean your house and clothes.
  • Thirdly, using nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Lastly, seeking support from other people.

Once you have found that you are pregnant, try to stop smoking immediately. If you are not sure, use some pregnancy test kits to check.

The second period: During pregnancy

Benefits of stop smoking at this period

If you stop smoking before week 15 of your pregnancy, most of the harmful effects of smoking on your baby will be eliminated. This will allows your child to continue to grow and develop without issues as their organs are fully functioned and normal birth weight.

Keep smoking after week 15 will start causing harm to the baby, however, the sooner you stop smoking, the healthier your baby will be. It is never too late to stop smoking.

How to quit smoking at this period

  • Firstly, reduce your stress to prevent the needs of smoking.
  • Secondly, using aromatherapy will help to calm your mind and body.
  • Thirdly, long soothing baths will help to relax your body.
  • Fourthly, exercise will allow you to work out pent up frustrations and anxieties.
  • Lastly, nicotine replacement therapy will make it easier to quit

The third period: After giving birth

Benefits of stop smoking at this period

Protects both the child and their mother from its toxic chemicals and its harmful side effects. In fact, smoking still causing impacts on surrounding areas includes your clothes. Using nursing bras in this period may help you reduce the difficulties.

So there are some major benefits of staying smoke-free after birth: better for babies’ health; better for babies’ development; children are less likely to become smokers; better for your overall health.

Remain smoke-free after giving birth

  • Firstly, tell your family & friends your plan to stay smoke-free.
  • Secondly, create smoke-free zones in your home & car.
  • Thirdly, check nicotine replacement therapy options.
  • Fourthly, sign up for a program that provides 24/7 tips & encouragement.
  • Lastly, call a quitline. 
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