Second Hand Smoke During Pregnancy (12 Risks While Pregnant)

Did you know that exposure to second hand smoke while pregnant can have consequences for both the mother and baby?

It’s true.

Second hand smoke during pregnancy is a serious issue that often does invisible harm. And what’s worse is you may not know the effects until it’s too late.

So, to keep you apprised of what can happen from second hand smoke and pregnancy, we put together this list of the top risks.

Take a look below to find out what harm can be done to the mom and baby if they’re exposed to tobacco smoke.

How Can You Stay Safe?

Before we jump into the list, it’s good for you to know that there are simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure to second hand smoke while pregnant.

Number one is obvious, always stay away from areas where smoking is present.

Number two is to invest in an air purifier.

Air purifiers are specially designed machines that remove pollutants from the air.

This includes second hand smoke. People with air purifiers in their homes enjoy a cleaner, fresher air that is healthier to breathe.

To find out what to look for in a high-quality air purifier for smoke, take a look at our best air purifier for smoke list to see how the top features work.

You may be surprised at how well these inexpensive devices can strip the air of smoke particles and its odor.

It’s worth a quick look if you’re at all concerned about your health as a mother or your baby’s.

12 Risks of Second Hand Smoke While Pregnant

Health Risks for the Mother

There is a myriad of health risks that come from being pregnant and having exposure to secondhand smoke.

These range in severity and they get worse the longer you have exposure. The biggest risks for mothers include but are not limited to:

1. Difficulty Getting Pregnant

The Surgeon General released a report that showed that smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke can damage a woman’s reproductive organs.

It can decrease your chances of being able to get pregnant by as much as 25%, and the damage gets worse as you have more exposure.


New studies link second hand smoke during pregnancy with suffering from a miscarriage.

The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke can cause a baby to not get enough oxygen. When this happens, the baby can’t develop or grow as they normally would.

In turn, your risk of having a miscarriage increases by 17%.


The chemicals in tobacco can cause stillbirths in otherwise healthy women.

One study showed that only 1% of Pakistani woman had stillbirths due to actively smoking.

However, 7% had stillbirths as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke, and it amounted to roughly 17,000 stillbirths per year.

High Blood Pressure

Roughly 78% of pregnant women who have exposure to secondhand smoke have high blood pressure throughout their pregnancy.

This can lead to problems with premature labor, lower birth weights, and miscarriage.

High blood pressure happens naturally to around every 1 in 25 women in the United States, but you’re putting yourself at much higher risk with secondhand smoke.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a condition where a woman’s egg implants outside of the uterus, and it usually starts growing in the fallopian tube.

This isn’t a viable pregnancy, and it can be life-threatening to the mother. Secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy by up to 10%.

Health Risks for Baby

Mothers aren’t the only ones at risk with second hand smoke during pregnancy.

Their babies are also at risk for a host of health issues, and these health issues also get worse the more exposure the mother has to the smoke.

Premature Birth

The chemicals found in secondhand smoke can trigger premature birth, and it increases the risks of this happening by as much as 20%.

This means that the babies won’t have all of the necessary time to develop their respiratory and immune systems, and it increases their risks of complications.

Low Birth Weight

For mothers who have secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy, they have a one in five chance (20%) of having babies with low birth weights.

This lower weight means that the babies are not only smaller, but they’re also less healthy than babies with higher or normal birth rates.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Babies who have mothers who smoke while they’re pregnant and babies who have exposure to secondhand smoke right after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The risk goes up three times with secondhand smoke exposure, and roughly 1,000 babies die each year from SIDS.

Weaker Respiratory Systems

Babies who have secondhand smoke exposure have weaker respiratory systems overall, and they’re more susceptible to infections.

In fact, they’re 30% more likely to have respiratory problems right after birth, and this increases their chances of developing SIDS as well.

Ear Infections

The Surgeon General released a report that showed that mothers who are around someone who smokes increases their baby’s possibility of developing chronic ear infections.

They also have an increased risk of needing surgery to put tubes in their ears later in life to protect their hearing by as much as 9.6%.

Cleft Lip

Since smoke chemicals can negatively impact your baby’s tissues as they’re developing, it can cause cleft lip or cleft palate.

Women who smoke themselves have an increased risk of 50% to 70% while people who have secondhand smoke exposure have a 20% to 30% increased risk of their baby’s developing cleft lip and palate.

What Can You Do?

Now that you know the top risks associated with second hand smoke and pregnancy, what are some steps you can take to keep yourself (as a mother) and the baby health?

The easiest thing is to prevent smoking inside your house.

Make smokers go outside if they want to light up.

Another is to invest in an air purifier. This device can eliminate all traces of smoke in the air, even if a person continues to smoke in it.

Check out our best air purifier for smoke list to find out more about how these machines work to keep the air around you fresh and clean.

Being exposed to second hand smoke during pregnancy doesn’t have to happen for everyone.

If you just take those two small steps above, you can avoid all of the risks outlined on this page.

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