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What are the long-term risks of smoking while pregnant?

In addition to preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, and low birth weight, issues with attention can be associated with smoke exposure in the womb.

Specifically, the risk of attention problems, impulsivity, and hyperactivity like those seen in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — all of which persist into adulthood — increases for women who smoke while pregnant in comparison to non-smokers. We know that nicotine, for sure, and other compounds such as cyanide and bromide possibly affect the neural pathways in the developing brain. Infants of smokers also have increased rates of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, and wheezing.

Smoking cessation can be very difficult, even when motivated by pregnancy. Talking honestly with your obstetrician about strategies to quit and setting goals can help. The more cigarettes per day, the lower the birth weight, so reducing the total number is a step in the right direction.

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