Smoking and Your Pregnancy

Smoking can cause significant damage to a woman's reproductive system. An estimated 27.2% of reproductive aged women smoke cigarettes -- that equates to more than 14 million women ages 18-44 that are smokers. This is more than double the Healthy People 2000 goal to reduce prevalence for reproductive age women to 12 percent.

If current trends continue, smoking will have a tremendous health impact on smoking mothers and their unborn or born children. In addition, smoking-related pregnancy complications will cause a dramatic cost burden to the nation's health care system.

Women who smoke during pregnancy are at risk for premature birth, pregnancy complications, low-birth weight infants, stillbirth, and a higher rate of infant mortality.

For pregnant women and new mothers, smoking puts their baby at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), poor lung development, asthma, and respiratory infections.

In 1987 dollars, the estimated medical cost of a complicated birth for smokers was nearly twice ($10,894) that of non-smokers ($6,544).

Extrapolated to the nation, estimated smoking attributable medical costs for those with complicated births was $791 million, or 11% of total costs for all complicated births, in 1987 dollars and based on an assumed prevalence of smoking of 19%.

Updated to 1995, estimated smoking attributable costs for those with complicated births, based on an assumed prevalence of smoking during pregnancy of 19%, was $1.4 billion in 1995 dollars. In 1995, approximately 14 percent of women smoked during pregnancy down 5 percent from 1994 and 29 percent since 1989.

There is a significant health benefit for women who quit smoking during pregnancy. Low birthweight could be reduced by 17-26 percent by eliminating smoking during pregnancy.

For more information about quitting, contact the local chapter of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, or American Cancer Society. Also, visit CDC's website, particularly Smoking & Tobacco Use.