Smoking in pregnancy and lactation: a review of risks and cessation strategies

  • Adrienne Einarson
  • Sara Riordan
Review Article



Despite documented evidence of harm to fetus and infant, a substantial number of women continue to smoke during pregnancy and lactation.


To examine the literature regarding smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding to ascertain adverse effects as well as the efficacy of interventions to enable women to stop smoking in the perinatal period.

Study design

A comprehensive literature search was undertaken to identify all published studies reporting on smoking in pregnancy and lactation. MEDLINE, EMBASE, PUBMED, and Web of Science databases were searched for studies published in English from 1966 to 2008 that reported on smoking in pregnancy and breastfeeding, with information on adverse effects and on all forms of smoking cessation, including behavioral interventions, nicotine replacement therapy, and pharmacotherapy such as antidepressants.


There is evidence that smoking in pregnancy and lactation may cause many adverse affects in the perinatal period, childhood, and up to adulthood. These adverse effects include infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, placenta insufficiency, low birth weight, fetal growth restriction, preterm delivery, orofacial clefts, SIDS, craniosynostosis, clubfoot, childhood respiratory disease, attention deficit disorder, and some childhood cancers. A number of strategies have been developed to assist pregnant women in quitting smoking, including both behavioral interventions and pharmacological therapies, such as nicotine replacement and antidepressant therapy.


Behavioral interventions report only modest success rates. Nicotine replacement therapy and antidepressants appear to be safe to use in pregnancy, but do not achieve a substantially higher success rate for quitting.


Smoking Pregnancy Nicotine Cessation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Motherisk Program, The Hospital for Sick Children, Division of Clinical PharmacologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Arizona Teratology Information ProgramTucsonUSA

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