Results from a study of over 50 000 pregnancies revealed that women who gave up smoking when their pregnancy was confirmed gave birth to babies with a similar birthweight to those born to mothers who had never smoked, Professor Nick Macklon, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Southampton, UK, told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Wednesday).
Low birthweight is the most common negative outcome of smoking during pregnancy, but foetuses exposed to maternal smoking are also at risk of premature birth and the associated problem of brain damage, as well as congenital abnormalities such as cleft lip. Mothers who smoke are encouraged to stop smoking when they become pregnant, but to date there was little evidence that giving up at this late stage could have a positive effect on birthweight.
Professor Macklon and colleagues decided to investigate this question by studying clinical, lifestyle, and socioeconomic data collected from pregnancies registered at the Southampton University Medical Centre between 2002 and 2010. They identified seven groups of women non-smokers, those who had stopped more than a year prior to conceiving, those who had stopped less than a year prior to conceiving, smokers who stopped once the pregnancy was confirmed, and those who continued to smoke up to 10 a day, between 10 and 20 a day, and more than 20 a day. They proceeded to compare smoking behaviour in the mothers with perinatal outcomes in the children.
After correcting for gestational age, maternal age, BMI and socioeconomic class, all of which are known to affect birth outcomes, the researchers found that those babies whose mothers had stopped smoking in the periconceptional period around the time of getting pregnant or as soon as the pregnancy was confirmed had a significantly higher birthweight.
"Not only was birthweight much better in this group than it was
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European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology