Never Too Late to Quit Smoking for Baby

Periconceptional smoking cessation is the healthiest option for your newborn

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Nicotine addiction is one of the toughest habits to kick. Expecting moms have an added incentive: their newborn's health. For your baby, quitting early in pregnancy is almost as good as being a non-smoker.

Babies whose mothers chose to quit smoking at their conception had improved gestational health, birthweight and head circumference, according to researchers from the United Kingdom.

"Babies born to smoke-free moms are healthier."

Not only was the birthweight of babies' whose moms quit smoking around conception healthier than those who continued to smoke, but they were also able to reach comparable gestational age and head measurements as those born to women who had never smoked, reports Nick Macklon, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southampton School of Medicine.

Recent research has already shown benefits for women who quit smoking before their second trimester, but this research reveals definitively that smoking cessation around the time of conception benefits the unborn child in a more meaningful way. 

Macklon's vision is to encourage women to stop smoking prior to fertility treatments in the hope that being smoke-free improves fertility outcomes.

This study investigated socioeconomic, clinical and lifestyle data from pregnancies between 2002 and 2010. Researchers grouped the women into seven different categories:

  • those who quit the habit at least a decade before conception,
  • non-smokers who had quit less than a year before conception,
  • those who had stopped smoking by conception,
  • smokers who continued smoking 10 cigarettes a day while pregnant,
  • smokers who continued smoking 10 to 20 cigarettes daily, and
  • smokers who continued smoking more than a pack a day

Then they evaluated birth outcomes in children birthed from each group.

Macklon presented the results to the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology on July 2011. Results are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 6, 2011
Last Updated:
September 3, 2011