March 7th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Pregnant women: Secondhand smoke can harm your unborn baby

Even if you don't smoke when you're pregnant, just being around smokers, can increase the risk of harming your future baby, according to a new study in the medical journal Pediatrics.

Researchers found exposure to secondhand smoke increased a non-smoking pregnant woman's chances of having a stillborn by 23 percent, and increased the risk of delivering a baby with birth defects by 13 percent.

"These results highlight the importance of smoking prevention and cessation focusing on the father in addition to the mother, during the preconception period and during the pregnancy," explains Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, who is not affiliated with the study.

The team of experts reviewed virtually all available studies worldwide that focused on this health issue.

The scientists aren't exactly sure what levels of secondhand smoke are dangerous, but they do think the more exposure the higher the risks.

"We anticipate that the effect becomes significant when the woman is exposed to more than 10 cigarettes a day, which isn't a lot when you consider that some women are exposed to partners and other people's smoking habits on a daily basis. However, we need more evidence to be able to say with certainty what the true levels are," explains study author Jo Leonardi-Bee, PhD and Associate Professor in Medical Statistics at the University of Nottingham in England.

This research also suggests that secondhand smoke can be almost as dangerous to a baby as having a mother who smokes, at least when referring to stillbirths and birth defects.

Pregnant smokers have a 20 to 34% increase risk of having a baby who is stillborn compared to women who don't smoke, according to Dr. Winickoff. The risks weren't much less – 23% – for the non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke.

The picture for birth defects is similar. The range for smoking women and birth defects is between 10 – 34%, and for pregnant women who are around smokers, 13%. Babies exposed to passive smoke were more likely to be born with major deformities of the feet, testes, or not have a brain.

"We know there are at least 400 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. These can get into the pregnant mother and affect her baby," says Dr. Winickoff.

Cigarettes contain heavy metals, DNA damaging agents, and class one carcinogens – the most harmful ones known.

"Protect yourself from passive smoke before and during pregnancy, not only to reduce risks of disease to yourself, but also to reduce the many harms that passive smoke can have on your future baby," says Leonardi-Bee.

soundoff (320 Responses)
  1. JbbnEncox

    cialis on nhs prescription cialis and shingles grapefruit cialis side effect

    February 15, 2021 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. travelers notebook 2020

    I was able to find good information from your blog articles.

    Here is my web site; travelers notebook 2020

    February 15, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. NbnhZisse

    sildenafil 100 online http://vigedon.com/ viagra generic price in india

    February 16, 2021 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Profitable-Digital-Marketing Strategy-and-Plan

    Create a profitable digital marketing strategy and plan: https://www.seoclerk.com/Virtual-Assistant/840836/I-will-create-a-profitable-digital-marketing-strategy-and-plan


    February 16, 2021 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. credit card pocket insert for chic sparrow nano

    Hi there, just became alert to your website through Google, and found that it is actually really informative.
    I'm going to be aware of brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future.

    Many men and women will be taken advantage of your writing.

    my homepage credit card pocket insert for chic sparrow nano

    February 16, 2021 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. coronavirus treatment

    new york erectile dysfunction plaquenil indications erectile winstrol

    February 16, 2021 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. FbsgZisse

    cialis cheaper http://llecialisjaw.com/ cialis tablets in australia

    February 16, 2021 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. how does plaquenil work

    erectile implant surgery plaquenil retina erectile tissue location

    February 20, 2021 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. remote pc assistance

    I view something really special in this site.


    February 21, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. LeanHKnott

    I was suggested this website by my cousin. I'm uncertain whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such
    detailed about my problem. You happen to be incredible!

    Also visit my homepage LeanHKnott

    February 22, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. KndnMile

    instant natural viagra viagra side effects where to buy viagra

    February 28, 2021 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.