Pregnant non-smokers who breathe in the second-hand smoke of other people are at an increased risk of delivering stillborn babies or babies with defects, a study led by researchers at The University of Nottingham has found.
The study, published in the April edition of the journal Pediatrics, found passive smoking increased the risk of still birth by almost one-quarter (23 per cent) and was linked to a 13 per cent increased risk of congenital birth defects.
The findings underline the importance of discouraging expectant fathers from smoking around their pregnant partners and warning women of the potential dangers of second-hand smoke both pre-conception and during pregnancy.
Dr Jo Leonardi-Bee, of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University, said: "Mothers' smoking during pregnancy is well-recognised as carrying a range of serious health risks for the unborn baby including fetal mortality, low birth weight, premature birth and a range of serious birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot and heart problems.
"Since passive smoking involves exposure to the same range of tobacco toxins experienced by active smokers, albeit at lower levels, it is likely that coming into contact with second-hand smoke also increases the risk of some of all of these complications."
The study is the first of its kind to draw together the results of research from around the world into the effects of second-hand smoking on pregnancy and to estimate the potential increased risks.
The findings were drawn from a systematic review of 19 studies carried out in North America, South America, Asia and Europe and centred on pregnant women who did not smoke themselves but were exposed to second-hand smoke in the home by their partners or in the workplace by colleagues.
The research looked at the potential effects of passive smoking on miscarriage, newborn death and congenital birth defects.
The study did not fi
|Contact: Emma Thorne|
University of Nottingham