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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
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Preconception/Pregnancy
- Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use in Pregnancy

Studies have shown that alcohol, tobacco, or drug use by the mother or father can harm the developing fetus during pregnancy. 



Tobacco Use/Second Hand Smoke:

  • It is a well-known fact that smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke can cause cancer. Both are also harmful for an unborn baby. 

  • Each cigarette smoked by a pregnant woman denies the unborn baby of 20 minutes of the proper amount of oxygen needed by the baby to grow and develop. 

  • Fathers-to-be who smoke also have effects on a baby. Smoking decreases sperm health and sperm count, making men who smoke less fertile. As well, second hand smoke in the home is very harmful to both the mother and the baby, even if the mom does not smoke herself.




Smoking in pregnancy has been linked to the following conditions:

  • Low Birth Weight Baby

  • Breakthrough bleeding

  • Miscarriage/death of the fetus

  • Placenta previa

  • Abrubtio placenta

  • Premature rupture of membranes

  • Premature birth

  • Death of infant (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS)


The Up Side:

Quitting or cutting down on the number of cigarettes smoked can increase your chances of having a healthy baby. If you eliminate your exposure to cigarette smoke even after the 6th month, some of the difficulties associated with low birth weight can be reversed. If you do not smoke, but are exposed to second hand smoke, try to eliminate or avoid the smoke.

For information on quitting smoking:





Alcohol Use:

Click here for more information on an Alcohol-free pregnancy.

Contact a local addictions agency if you need help to stop using alcohol or drugs.




Drug Use In Pregnancy:

There are many substances that can be harmful to both the mother and the fetus in pregnancy. Talk with your health care provider about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you use, even if they are herbal supplements. Find out if these medications can be safely continued during pregnancy. Motherisk is an excellent site for information and guidance concerning the potential risks to the developing fetus or infant from exposure to drugs, chemicals, diseases, radiation and environmental agents. There is also information on nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.




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