Smoking during pregnancy increases risk of premature birth and SIDS

Smoking during pregnancy has been deemed unsafe for mother and child. New data on child death in pregnant smokers show that there is no safe intake.

Which risk did smokers face in the study?

Smoking harms the unborn child

All physicians and lay people know that smoking is not healthy, especially smoking during pregnancy. However, a recent study from the USA has now provided clear facts on this. The researchers followed over 13 million pregnant women and their children. Those who smoked had significantly worse outcomes in terms of child survival.

The more cigarettes, the higher the risk

It became clear: the more cigarettes expectant mothers smoke, the higher the infantile mortality risk. Smoking throughout pregnancy significantly increases the risk of infantile mortality, and more concretely:

The study also showed that pregnant women who quit smoking after the first trimester can reduce their child's risk - but not to the level of non-smoking mothers.

Is it worth switching to e-cigarettes?

To make quitting smoking easier, expectant mothers sometimes turn to e-cigarettes. These have the reputation of being healthier than conventional cigarettes. But whether this is actually true for smoking during pregnancy is controversial and not conclusively determined. 

A recent study examined the effects of e-cigarettes on mouse embryos in utero and compared them with the outcomes of cigarette smoking. The result: physiological and mental development in early pregnancy was not affected by vaping. However, there was a slowing of motor development. This means that e-cigarettes have both a positive and a negative influence on child development - compared to conventional cigarettes. This is true at least for the mouse model.

Conclusion for medical practice: Smoking is fundamentally harmful

All pregnant women should be encouraged to stop smoking. The data make it clear that there is no safe minimum consumption dose when it comes to cigarette use in pregnancy. Infantile mortality risk is significantly increased in smokers. Whether e-cigarettes can be a solution has not been conclusively clarified.

  1. Sun J, Liu X, Zhao M, Magnussen CG, Xi B. Dose-response association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and the risk of infant death: a nationwide, population-based, retrospective cohort study. EClinicalMedicine. 2023 Feb 26;57:101858. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.101858. PMID: 36879656; PMCID: PMC9984774.
  2. Bakker C, Chivers E, Chia XW, Quintrell E, Wyrwoll C, Larcombe A. Switching from tobacco cigarettes in very early pregnancy: The effects of in utero e-cigarette exposure on mouse offspring neurodevelopment and behaviour. Physiol Behav. 2023 May 1;263:114118. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2023.114118. Epub 2023 Feb 14. PMID: 36796533.