It is fairly common knowledge that pregnant women should stop smoking, as it can have numerous negative effects on their child. If you are trying to become pregnant, quitting smoking is one of the best ways you can ensure good health for your baby. Smoking in general causes the arteries and veins to constrict. When pregnant women smoke, the arteries that give their babies nutrition are also constricted, and the babies become malnourished. This can have many negative side effects, such as preterm delivery and low birth weight. While you can give up smoking to improve the health of your baby, you cannot control the people who smoke around you. Since secondhand smoke has been proven to have many negative side effects on the adults that are surrounded by it, studies have been conducted to find out whether or not these negative effects translate to the babies of pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

In a recent study, the results clearly showed that secondhand smoke has a negative effect on the unborn children whose mothers are exposed to it. The babies of these mothers were 23% more likely to experience stillbirth, and 13% more likely to have a congenital malformation. Secondhand smoke clearly has very negative effects on unborn babies. Since the cause and timing of these side effects is unclear, it should simply be avoided at every stage of the pregnancy, including during the stage of attempted conception. Avoiding secondhand smoke can be difficult at times, but for the health of your child, extreme measures might sometimes be necessary.

Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke is not always as easy. Sometimes, people in your own family will smoke around you at birthday celebrations or at a crowded outdoor function. If telling them to put their cigarettes out is not socially acceptable in the situation, you should always leave the setting when possible. It might feel awkward at the time, but the negative risks of secondhand smoke on your child are great, so dealing with it now is better than dealing with it later. Obviously, you might be exposed to secondhand smoke in some situations that you can’t avoid, but making those situations as rare as possible is key. When it comes to the effects of smoking, the side effects are dose-dependent, so the same can be assumed for secondhand smoke.

Source: Jo Leonardi-Bee et al: Secondhand Smoke and Adverse Fetal Outcomes in Nonsmoking Pregnant Women: A Meta-analysis. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics Volume 127 Issue 4 pp 734-741 April 2011