smoking in pregnancy

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Various effects of smoking in pregnancy are described:

  • increased risk of premature delivery
  • associated with intrauterine growth retardation - infants born to mothers who smoke are, on average, 170 g lighter; there is x2 risk of having an infant with a birthweight of under 2500g compared with non-smoking mothers
  • perinatal deaths are more common in infants born to mothers who smoke
  • spontaneous abortions are more common in mothers who smoke (1)

The risk of pre-eclampsia is LOWER for women who smoke than for non-smoking mothers.

NICE state that (2):

Smoking in pregnancy

  • at the first contact with the woman, discuss her smoking status, provide information about the risks of smoking to the unborn child and the hazards of exposure to secondhand smoke. Address any concerns she and her partner or family may have about stopping smoking

  • discuss the risks and benefits of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) with pregnant women who smoke, particularly those who do not wish to accept the offer of help from the NHS Stop Smoking Service. If a woman expresses a clear wish to receive NRT, use professional judgement when deciding whether to offer a prescription


  1. Roberta B (1999). NEJM, 340, 333.
  2. NICE (March 2016). Antenatal care for uncomplicated pregnancies

Last reviewed 02/2020