Last Updated 08 Apr 2020

Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy

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Around 12% of all pregnancies occur to women who continue to smoke throughout their pregnancy.

Two thirds of those involved in maternal smoking during pregnancy are Caucasian.

More than 500,000 infants each year are exposed to cigarette smoke in utero.

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Maternal smoking during pregnancy has been heavily linked to many infant and toddler health issues.

Health issues are also apparent in women who do not smoke during pregnancy, but are regularly exposed to smoke during their pregnancy.  This applies most to those who live with a smoker, or those who work in smoking environments.

It is a known fact that maternal smoking during pregnancy produces more premature births and babies with lower birth weights.

Maternal smoking during pregnancy has also been associated with babies who have colic.

It has been found that tobacco smoke raises levels of motilin in the blood and intestines when maternal smoking during pregnancy is apparant. These raised levels causes contractions of the stomach and intestines to increase.

The increased levels of motilin can cause colic in infants, which can cause the infants pain and discomfort for months.

Studies show that infants who had colic at 3 months of age had more sleep difficulties and temper tantrums at 3 years of age in comparison with those children without colic.

Studies show that maternal smoking during pregnancy leads to more rebellious and aggressive infants and toddlers, helping to link smoking during pregnancy to behavior in infants and toddlers.

Mothers who smoked during pregnancy also reported more negative behavior from their infants and toddlers than mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy.

Studies show that maternal smoking during pregnancy can have behavioral affects on the infant well into adulthood.


Does maternal smoking during pregnancy affect the personality (behavior, mood) of an infant and continue to have an affect into toddler hood?


It is suspected that maternal smoking during pregnancy does indeed have an affect on the personality (behavior, mood) of an infant and continues to have an affect into toddler hood.

Conducting a study on the behavior of infants born to mothers who smoked during their pregnancy, and continuing the study through their toddler years can provide adequate research for this question.

This study would need to monitor the child in his or her normal environment as well as in typical social environments.

The child’s behavior would then be compared to the behavior of children of the same age and developmental stage that were born to mothers who did not smoke during the pregnancy.

By collecting all of the data and analyzing it, there may be a pattern of behavior differences between the children who were born to smoking mothers and those who were born to non-smoking mothers.


It may be difficult to pinpoint aggressive or negative behavior from children on the sole fact that their mother smoked during their pregnancy.

It will be difficult to factor in behavioral and discipline techniques used by guardians of these children.

It may be difficult to get mothers to admit they smoked during their pregnancy, as they may be embarrassed of their lack of attention to the health issues that may have been affected.

It may be impossible to set a standard and determine what is normal rebellious behavior for an infant and toddler and what is abnormal behavior.


  • Hitti, Miranda. “Tobacco Smoke May Increase Colic”. 4 October, 2004.
  • Acquired on 22 June 2005.
  • “Infant Deaths Tied to Premature Births”. New York Times. 1 March, 1995.
  •  Acquired on 22 June
  • 2005.
  • “Prenatal Smoking Data Book: Smoking and Reproductive Outcomes”.
  • Acquired on 22 June 2005.
  • Schonfeld, Amy Rothman PhD.  “Dreading the 'Terrible Twos'? Don't Smoke, Mothers
  • Warned”.  13 April, 2000.
  • Acquired on 22 June 2005.

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