Pregnant and smoking

Being pregnant and smoking: is that actually possible? We all know that smoking is harmful to our health. In recent years, more and more people have started smoking again. Women in particular have started smoking relatively often. It is always recommended not to smoke during pregnancy. But do you know why? More and more women have started smoking recently. While smoking used to be a typically male affair, nowadays women smoke just as often as men. It is also a generally accepted image. But a pregnant woman who smokes, that’s something different! More than 30 percent of all women smoke. Of those women who smoke, more than 20 percent continue to smoke during pregnancy. This is a lot of pregnant smoking women every year. On average, one in five unborn babies ingests harmful substances from a cigarette because the mother smokes or engages in passive smoking. One in eight poorly educated women continues to smoke during pregnancy. This is one in twelve of highly educated people. This is evident from research conducted by TNO.

Is smoking during pregnancy harmful?

Smoking is harmful to your health, everyone knows that. Anyone who smokes has an increased risk of heart disease, various forms of cancer and gray skin. A cigarette contains more than 4,000 toxic substances, 40 of which are directly harmful to health. The placenta connects the baby to the mother and must protect the baby against harmful external influences. Unfortunately, the placenta does not block the toxins from cigarettes. This means that the baby also ingests all the harmful substances from a cigarette. Smoking during pregnancy is therefore very harmful to the unborn baby.

Miscarriage and premature birth

The chance of a miscarriage is approximately 10 percent with each pregnancy. Women who smoke have a much higher risk of miscarriage, the risk is approximately twice as high. The risk of premature birth also increases significantly. 1 in 7 children of smoking mothers are born prematurely. A premature birth can cause serious complications for the baby.

Detached placenta

Women who smoke heavily are much more likely to lose the placenta during pregnancy. The risk is twice as high as in non-smoking pregnant women. When the placenta detaches, this is in most cases fatal for the baby. Most second-hand smoke babies are also born with a low birth weight. The risk of cot death also increases. Of all babies who die from cot death, more than 20 percent can be traced directly back to passive smoking during the embryonic phase.

Behavioral problems in the child

If you want a child with behavioral problems, smoke during pregnancy. The risk of ADHD is increased, as is the risk of The majority of babies who smoke second-hand smoke do worse at school later than average. A number of children even develop serious learning problems.


During the first three months of pregnancy, all the baby’s organs are formed. Smoking seriously disrupts the development. The risk of clubfoot and cleft lip is greatly increased. The body length also remains smaller in these children, as does the head circumference. Almost 1/3 of babies who smoke secondhand will suffer from asthmatic conditions during the first year of life. A middle ear infection is also more common in these children. In addition, many children experience some form of allergy. Infections strike more quickly in children who have smoked during the embryonic phase.

Risk of cancer increases

The harmful substances from cigarettes penetrate deep into the baby’s body. It damages the cells. An unborn baby has rapidly dividing cells that are extra sensitive to damage. The risk of cancer in a baby who smokes secondhand is significantly higher than in other children. This cancer does not necessarily have to develop immediately after birth, but the chance that childhood cancer or cancer will develop at a young age is many times greater. For example, the risk of lung cancer is almost twice as high as for others. The risk of a heart attack/stroke also increases sharply.

Quit smoking

It’s never too late to quit smoking. Preferably before you want to have children, but quitting smoking up to 16 weeks can still be useful. Your GP can help you quit smoking. Some avoid this because help with quitting smoking costs money: nowadays less and less is reimbursed by health insurance. But smoking and later also healthcare for the child costs much more money.

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  • Why do people smoke
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