How Smoking Can Harm You and Your Baby

Blues Perspectives

| 2 min read

Black Mom Playing With Baby
Babies born at a low birth weight can experience health problems at birth and throughout their lives. Smoking during pregnancy is one thing that can cause a low birth weight. Quitting smoking now can help your baby get to a healthy birth weight so he or she may live a longer, healthier life.

What Is Low Birth Weight?

A baby who weighs less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces at birth is at a low birth weight, according to the March of Dimes. Low birth weight babies may grow up to have problems with their health, including:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weight gain
  • Weak immune system
Adults who were low birth weight babies are more likely to experience health problems, such as:
  • Learning and developmental disabilities
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure

How Smoking Affects Your Baby

Some babies are born at a low birth weight naturally but smoking during pregnancy makes it three and a half times more likely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking can damage your baby’s growing lungs and brain. That damage can last through childhood and into adulthood. Smoking also raises your baby’s risk for birth defects, including:
  • Cleft lip
  • Cleft palate
  • Both cleft lip and palate
A cleft is an opening in your baby’s lip or in the roof of their mouth (palate) that can make it hard to eat and will likely require surgery. Moms who smoke during pregnancy are at twice the risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. This can put both mom and baby in danger. Babies have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) if their moms smoked during pregnancy, and if they're exposed to cigarette smoke after birth.

How To Quit

No matter where you are in your pregnancy, it’s not too late to quit smoking. Stopping or even cutting down will be good for your baby. It’s hard, but we’re here to help. Our no-cost Tobacco Quit Program offers special resources for pregnant women. You’ll receive nine counseling calls, one female quit coach and gift card rewards for keeping appointments. Call the Michigan Tobacco Quitline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669. All Quitline counseling is confidential and has no cost for Blue Cross Complete members. Sources:
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