Yes, yes, we all know smoking while pregnant can be harmful to the fetus, not to mention the pregnant and smoking mom. A massive new study of a bunch of previous studies even found the specific birth defects smoking can cause, which we’ll get to in a minute.
But there’s something pretty interesting that the meta-study also uncovered: smoking while pregnant may have a couple of benefits.
Anyone got a light?
The study, “Maternal smoking in pregnancy and birth defects,” is the first time researchers looked systematically at previous studies on smoking as it related to birth defects.
What they found was mothers who smoked were at an increased risk for giving birth to babies with the following birth defects [from CNN]:
– heart defects
– limb reduction defects—the absence of severe underdevelopment of the hands, feet, radius, tibia, ulna or fibula
– digit anomalies—missing, fused or extra fingers or toes
– cleft lip or palate
– eye defects
– gastrointestinal defects like gastroschisis, anal atresia, and umbilical/inguinal/ventral hernias
Additionally, the review found evidence that women who smoke are more likely to have a baby with two or more defects.
However, to the researchers’ surprise, they found an apparent benefit of smoking. Children born to smokers were at a decreased risk of skin pigmentation disorders and moles.
Hardly a decent trade-off, so of course the urgent recommendation of health scientists is that women give up the smokes before trying to conceive or as soon as they find out they’re pregnant.
The study was published online in the journal Human Reproduction Update from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
Did you smoke while pregnant? Did you know anyone who did?
Photo: kevindooley via flickr