Babies born to mothers who smoke:
- are more likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight (below 2.5kg or 5lb 8oz).
- have a birth weight on average 200g (7oz) less than those born to non-smokers. This effect increases proportionally - the more the mother smokes, the less the child weighs.
- have organs that are smaller on average than babies born to non-smokers.
- have poorer lung function.
- are twice as likely to die from cot death. There seems to be a direct link between cot death and parents smoking.
- are ill more frequently. Babies born to women who smoked 15 cigarettes or more a day during pregnancy are taken into hospital twice as often during the first eight months of life.
- get painful diseases such as inflammation of the middle ear and asthmatic bronchitis more frequently in early childhood.
- are more likely to become smokers themselves in later years.
In addition, pregnant women who smoke increase their risk of early miscarriage.
In later pregnancy, smoking mothers are at increased risk of the baby's placenta coming away from the womb before the baby is born (placental abruption). This may cause the baby to be born prematurely, starve of oxygen, or even to die in the womb (stillborn).