A new study by University of Nottingham researchers found that secondhand-smoke exposure increased the risk of stillbirth by 23% in nonsmoking pregnant women, compared with women who were not exposed to smoke at work or at home. Passive smoking also increased the risk of congenital birth defects by 13%.
The researchers analyzed data from 19 previous studies that assessed the effects of secondhand smoke on pregnancy. The review paper is slated to appear in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.
The study confirms that passive smoking is responsible for the increasing number of still borns.
Pregnant women who are exposed to second hand smoking (both pre-conceiving and during pregnancy) develop health risks for themselves and for generations to come. Since passive smoking involves exposure to the same range of tobacco toxins experienced by active smokers, although 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.
Mothers' smoking during or even before 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.
The authors noted that the baby's father was the source of secondhand-smoke exposure in five of the 19 studies: "These results highlight the importance for smoking prevention and cessation to focus on the father in addition to the mother during the preconception period as well as during pregnancy."
The study is based on the survey carried out in different parts of North America, South America, Asia and Europe. It comprised of women who do not smoke but are passive smokers either at home or work place.
The study should be a serious message for all prospective parents that smoking not only kills them slowly but also reduces the chance of the birth of a healthy baby.