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  1. Forest, Sharron DNP, RN, NNP-BC
  2. Priest, Sandra MSN, RN, NNP-BC


Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure during pregnancy are linked to a host of deleterious effects on the pregnancy, fetus, and infant. Health outcomes improve when women quit smoking at any time during the pregnancy. However, the developing heart is vulnerable to noxious stimuli in the early weeks of fetal development, a time when many women are not aware of being pregnant. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects. Research shows an association between maternal tobacco exposure, both active and passive, and congenital heart defects. This article presents recent evidence supporting the association between intrauterine cigarette smoke exposure in the periconceptional period and congenital heart defects and discusses clinical implications for practice for perinatal and neonatal nurses.