Harmful Effects of Smoking, Alcohol and Low Vitamin D During Pregnancy


Many pregnant women recognize the importance of maintaining good nutrition and an exercise regimen, but some may not be aware of how smoking, alcohol and low vitamin D impacts their developing babies.


Women who smoke during pregnancy may have babies that are born prematurely, are low in weight, have underdeveloped lungs or a heart defect, experience learning disorders and behavioral issues or have a low IQ. In some cases, the baby may be stillborn. According to babycenter.com, smoking cigarettes may be the No. 1 contributor to these undesirable results. Cigarettes contain nicotine and carbon monoxide, which together lower the amount of oxygen available to a developing baby.

Learn more about the detrimental results of smoking by reviewing WebMD’s information on “Smoking During Pregnancy.


Researchers at England universities in Bristol and Oxford discovered that even relatively moderate amounts of alcohol consumed during pregnancy (six or fewer alcoholic drinks a week) may have a negative effect on a child’s IQ.

Tests conducted on children at age 8 whose mothers drank moderately during pregnancy averaged nearly two points lower on IQ tests than other children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 13 women drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Read more about this study in this CBS News story, “Moderate Drinking During Pregnancy May Lower Child’s IQ.

Vitamin D

Can a low amount of vitamin D affect a baby’s development? According to babycenter.com, if a mother is low in vitamin D during pregnancy, the baby may experience low birth weigh, as well as growth retardation, skeletal deformities and immunity issues that may create health problems throughout life.

Currently, the National Academy of Sciences recommends that pregnant women who are not exposed to adequate daily sunlight should take 200 IUs of vitamin D each day. However, other medical experts believe the amount should be 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily. Medical professionals also recommend that pregnant women enjoy foods rich in vitamin D, including eggs, cheese, yogurt and some sources of fish, as well as milk and cereals fortified with vitamin D.

Find out more about the importance of vitamin D during pregnancy.