Courtesy Health Canada

Here’s the bottom line. Smoking kills babies.

A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2010 tells us just how lethal. This is an excellent study. The researchers looked at the US linked Birth/Infant Data Set, a record of all births in the US (they used the 2002 data set), excluding multiple births. Data from California was also excluded as California birth certificates in 2002 did not include the smoking status of the mother. In 2002, about 11.5% of mothers smoked during pregnancy, so 386,000 babies were exposed to cigarette smoke before birth.

The results of this study indicate that smoking in pregnancy causes:

  • 5-8% of premature births.
  • The deaths of 5-7% of premature babies
  • 13-19% of low-birth weight babies
  • 23-31% of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)

The researchers concluded that if all women quit smoking during pregnancy, health care costs would be reduced by $232 million every year, never mind improving the health of both mothers and babies and preventing the heartache of loosing a child.

Between 500 and 800 babies die every year from smoking related SIDS. In contrast, there were 32 deaths from drop sided cribs in approximately 10 years and these cribs have been recalled and are now banned. So the message from the government is SIDS due to cribs, terrible tragedy, SIDS due to smoking, not so much. I’m really not sure how to interpret it any other way. Big Tobacco money is clearly more important to the Federal Government than a growth-restricted baby in the NICU struggling to breathe or trimming a couple of hundred million dollars off the health care budget.

And all the pro-life people who picket about abortion? Why do I never hear about picket lines in front of Phillip Morris? Cigarettes kills babies. Lots of them.

And to those pro-life politicians happy to enact abortion restrictions, why not tobacco restrictions? Or maybe because smoking in pregnancy isn’t condemned in the bible, it’s okay?

The single most preventable cause of fetal and infant death is sitting on corner store shelves in every city and Big Tobacco is laughing all the way to the bank. I find the hypocrisy disgusting.

Smoking is a category X drug. It’s time the Feds got of their asses and did something about it.

For information on quitting smoking call 1(800) QUIT-NOW or go to

Join the Conversation


  1. I wish articles like this weren’t necessary. I’ve actually had someone claiming to be a qualified nurse assuring me quite forcibly that smoking during pregnancy wasn’t dangerous for the foetus.

    Only the respect I have for the old friend under whose roof we met prevented my letting this woman have it through both ears, volume turned up to 12.

  2. This is so informative!
    I don’t smoke, but I will be sure to pass this on to women that do. I know one women who couldn’t “handle giving up weed.” I did not agree with her decision what so ever, she did it anyway and had alot of pregnancy complications in the beginning. After she gave birth to her son (full-term), he ended up being kept in the hospital for internal bleeding and brain damage. I had very little sympathy for HER, more sympathy for her little man. I wonder how long

  3. What should the Feds do? There are members of the prolife movement that would criminalize tobacco use during pregnancy. Women in 3 different southern states are already being charged with crimes against their unborn fetuses if they used drugs that caused preterm labor resulting in death or stillbirth.
    Love your tweets.

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