Dangers of Smoking, Vaping, & Secondhand Smoke

Dangers of smoking

Smoking is linked to many serious health risks for both mom and baby.

Smoking during pregnancy harms your baby

When you smoke, the chemicals and toxins in tobacco products enter your body. Because you and your baby share the same bloodstream, deadly tobacco poisons in your system are shared with your baby.

Smoking can increase the risk of:
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Harm to baby’s lungs
  • Birth defects like cleft lip or palate
Smoking before and during pregnancy causes health problems for mothers:
  • Smoking makes it harder to get pregnant
  • Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage
  • Smoking during pregnancy can cause the placenta (the source of baby’s food and oxygen) to separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to both mother and baby

Dangers of e-cigarette & vape use

Almost all e-cigarette and vape products contain nicotine. Although vape aerosol generally has fewer toxic substances than cigarette smoke, vape products containing nicotine are not safe during pregnancy. When you vape or JUUL, nicotine travels through your bloodstream to your baby in the womb.

Nicotine is dangerous for pregnant women:
  • It is highly addictive
  • Disrupts the formation of brain circuits that control attention and learning
    Using nicotine—especially if you are under the age of 25—makes you more likely to become addicted
  • Can increase blood pressure and heart rate causing arteries to stiffen up, which means a higher risk for things like heart attack
  • Affects the way your body digests sugar (insulin resistance) and can increase your risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Nicotine can put your baby at risk:
  • Nicotine can damage a baby’s brain as it grows in the womb
  • Nicotine is toxic to a developing fetus

Dangers of secondhand smoke

There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke for pregnant women. Infants and young children are especially vulnerable. Ask your friends and family not to smoke around you while pregnant or when baby arrives.

Dangers include:
  • When pregnant women inhale the toxic chemicals in secondhand smoke, it weakens their immune systems.
  • Carcinogens may cause cancer and heart disease in both smokers and non-smokers.
  • A known risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Infants and young children are more likely to have lung problems, ear infections, and severe asthma from being around secondhand smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke leaves toxic thirdhand smoke behind. This dangerous residue hangs onto every possible surface, including carpets, blankets, and stuffed animals. Babies and young children can get it on their hands and clothes and even ingest it – especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor. Learn more about secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

Help for pregnant women and mothers who want to quit

The most important time for a woman to quit smoking can also be the most difficult.

About half of the women who smoke during pregnancy relapse within 6 months after having their baby making it important for pregnant women and new moms to have extra support.

Nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco products or vape can harm babies during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) medications like patches, lozenges, or gum, or call the South Dakota QuitLine at 1-866-SD-QUITS.

The South Dakota Quits offers free support to pregnant women who are using tobacco or
vape during pregnancy.