Smoking & Pregnancy

When my sister was pregnant, her doctor told her that smoking one or two cigarettes a day would not harm her child. Another woman I know was told to cut down on smoking, but that the stress of quitting would be more harmful to the child than the smoking itself. Is this really true? I’m sure that the more you smoke, the more harm you do, and that quitting is best, but have there been any studies on women who have smoked only one or two cigarettes a day and their babies have been harmed? And does when you smoke affect the child? I know my mother smoked while she was pregnant with me and I’m fine.

What about pot? I have another friend whose husband was having an affair while she was pregnant and she smoked a couple of joints to calm herself down. Do the potential benefits of the calming effects of the marijuana counteract the harmful ones? (She hasn’t had the baby yet and is now stressing that she harmed her unborn child by doing that).

Can someone please give me the SD!

Will no-one answer me? Please…

I’m not aware of such studies.

Smoking during pregnancy has indeed been linked to growth retardation (IUGR), preterm birth, placental abruption, placenta previa and a higher risk of miscarriage. (Brosky, Can Med Assoc Journal 152:163-6, 1995).

It makes sense that the higher the exposure, the higher the risk. Most people who smoke, smoke more than two cigarettes a day. You would have to find women who did smoke two cigarettes a day to do an ethical study. MANY smokers smoke far more than they tell their doctor.

Smoking a cigarette a day might be equivalent to living in a big city. It probably does bring a small increase in risk. I’m not convinced that if someone was so anxious at not smoking that it would harm the baby (how exactly?), that they could stick to a one cigarette limit. And pregnancy is an excellent opportunity to get patients to stop smoking.

I doubt this has been or will be studied. I would guess the increased risk of two daily cigarettes or two joints on one occasion is very small. I don’t think it is zero. But two cigarettes is a lot better than 20 cigarettes, and if this minimizes the risk, it’s not such bad advice.

There are no studies on this using verifiable data, just as there are no studies using verifiable data about how many drinks it takes to harm the fetus. Because you just can’t do those kinds of tests. So all that’s known about it is what’s reported.

For instance, someone whose child has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome might report that she never had more than two drinks a day–when in fact it could be more. (She could be willfully lying, or she could just be unrealistic about how much she actually drank. Some alcoholics are totally in denial about how much they drink.)

I had four pregnancies in four different decades and the advice given ranged from “10 or fewer cigarettes a day will not hurt your baby” to “quitting will make your blood pressure go up” to “don’t even think about it, what kind of monster are you anyway?” With the result that my fourth child was never exposed to it in the womb.

(Pretty much the same with alcohol. “One or two drinks a day is fine, don’t get drunk” with the first, “Not one sip” with the last. Of course, with the first one I wasn’t old enough to drink, legally, anyway.)

I was told that side effects of smoking included low birth weight, premature delivery, and potential for miscarriage.

The results: In the '60s, smoking 10 cigarettes a day and 1 beer throughout the pregnancy
In the '70s, 10 cigarettes a day and cutting way back on previous alcohol consumption (which is to say, 2-3 drinks per week during pregnancy)
'80s, same as the '70s but I got more grief for it
'90s, no cigarettes, one drink late in term when barmaid at brunch got my virgin confused with my friend’s bloody. (Mary.)

From the '60s: 7 lb 15 oz, 4 days past due date, healthy
From the '70s: 7 lb 11 oz, 15 days past due date, healthy
From the '80s: 8 lbs, 10 days past due date, healthy (but skinny as an adult)
From the '90s: 7 lb 1 ounce, 3 weeks early, healthy

I don’t know what to say about pot. I would think it would result in a mellower baby but I don’t really know. I did have a friend who had to go off her epilepsy medication (I think it was Dilantin) during pregnancy but who, with her doctor’s knowledge, smoked a bit of pot which also worked to control seizures. This may have been a delusion of both my friend and her doctor–it was in the '70s, not that people can’t be deluded at any time.

PS your friend who smoked pot while pregnant should quit stressing about having harmed her unborn child since (a) she doesn’t know she has and won’t until the baby is born and she probably didn’t and (b) can’t really do anything about it at this point anyway.

How much does your sister smoke? A smart doc might tell a patient to cut down instead of quit because that doc realizes the patient is not likely to quit - better a patient who will talk to you about what they are doing than a patient who feels she has “failed” and might lie.

Any smoking is potentially bad, according to the research I know of - that is, there are studies correlating smoking at all to things like increased SIDS risk. That’s not ‘a few a day’ but ‘at all’.

Just a few links: science daily

Query (PubMed) for Smoking Pregnancy, and you’ll get info on the damage caused by even secondhand smoke. Smoking yourself is more likely to cause harm.

Whether it is enough harm to be worth stressing about in people who are functionally unlikely to quit, unknown.

Smoking has also been associated with ingrown toenails, ear infections,athletes feet and hangnails…:rolleyes:
My mother smoked while pregnant with each of us ( 8 )
She pretty much lived on coffee and cigarettes.
Family photos proved we were FAT babies.
Father smoked, (unfiltered) all the uncles and aunts, grandparents and friends smoked.
We are all ( middleaged ? now ) relatively healthy.
All the older relatives died because they were OLD. One grandfather died at 92.

All of our friends parents smoked, we know of NO instance where ANY of them has died of a “cigarette” related disease.

All the old singers smoked and practically LIVED in smokefilled nightclubs… The majority of them were OLD when they died.

I smoked while pregant. My kids were the ONLY ones in the neighborhood who NEVER got an ear infection. Their illnesses consisted of an occasional cold.
They are healthy and happy.
Hell, maybe this anti- smoking propaganda is because they know smoking is REALLY going to keep you healthy and live longer.
The medical establishment couldnt deal with that.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND smoking while pregnant in ANY way, just stating my experience…

As with any healthcare questions,Make sure you read ALL available information, not just one opinion…

I know a few women who smoked 1 or 2 cigarettes a day while pregnant and the kid came out fine. I don’t suggest anyone do it but if Mom’s hell bent on smoking it’s obviously better she smoke only 1 a day instead of 20.

As far as pot, I know another woman who smoked it before she even knew she was pregnant. This was back when pot was really wussy and it took more hits to get you stoned. She probably smoked it twice before she found out, and of course she stopped. Kid came out fine.

As far as your friend who smoked pot goes, how pregnant was she when she did it? Mother Nature graciously gives us a nice little “grace period” right there at the beginning and there’s a LOT you can get away with during that time that would really really hurt the baby later in the pregnancy. If she did it really early chances are she probably didn’t harm the kid.