Women, Children and Smoking Effects

Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke have a number of harmful effects on women, unborn babies, and children.

Women who smoke are at increased risk for lung cancer and other types of cancer (e.g., cervical cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer), heart disease, and chronic lung disease (e.g., COPD, emphysema). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking-related illnesses cause more than 178,000 deaths in women each year in the United States.

Smoking increases the risk for infertility and menstrual disorders, osteoporosis (bone loss), and vision loss associated with cataracts and macular degeneration in women. Women who smoke experience complications from surgery more often than women who do not smoke. Smoking also reduces survival rates in women who are treated for serious illnesses, such as breast cancer.

Women who smoke during pregnancy have a higher risk of stillbirth, premature delivery, and low birth weight. Infants born to women who smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and for developing childhood asthma and allergies.

Exposure to secondhand smoke also can affect children's behavior and may cause depression and anxiety, rebelliousness, aggressive behavior, and learning disabilities. Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are more likely to begin smoking at a younger age than children of nonsmokers and are at increased risk for drug abuse and conduct disorders in adolescence.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 29 Dec 2009

Last Modified: 20 Feb 2015