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The implications of smoking in the pre-conception period

In this section you will learn about the implications of smoking in the pre-conception period.

Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of pregnancy related problems which include: 

  • miscarriage,  
  • premature birth,  
  • stillbirth,  
  • low birth weight baby 
  • newborn and early years complications such as respiratory disease.    

Some of the risks are explained in this short video.


Smoking rates vary around the country and are often higher in areas of higher social deprivation.  An estimated 13.7% of adult women in the UK smoke cigarettes and despite the advice given many continue to smoke throughout the pregnancy. 

It is important that both partners appreciate the need to stop smoking.  If either partner smokes then fertility is reduced.  And second hand smoke can cause health problems for the Mum and the newborn.    

It is possible to use nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy but advice and support from a smoking cessation advisor is recommended.  NRT is available in many forms including patches, gum, nasal spray, lozenges and others and an advisor can help support smokers to find their preferred product to use. 

  • Do you know where the local services are for smoking cessation? 
  • Can you consider why women continue to smoke throughout their pregnancy and how we can improve the messaging and support offered? 

Myths about quitting smoking in pregnancy are common and the following video can help support these messages.


  • Further information about the importance of stopping smoking prior to pregnancy is available on the NHS website. Planning your pregnancy 
  • Tommy‚Äôs charity provides information on the effect of smoking on female and male fertility.  How smoking affects female and male fertility 
  • Offering information and referring to smoking cessation services before pregnancy reduces the risks.  Most areas will have a local smoking cessation service or signpost to the National Smokefree Helpline 0300 123 1044.