Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Deformed limbs one of several birth defects linked to smoking in pregnancy

Date:
July 12, 2011
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Missing or deformed limbs, clubfoot, facial disorders and gastrointestinal problems are some of the most common birth defects found to be associated with smoking during pregnancy, according to a major new report.

New research into common birth defects associated with smoking during pregnancy shows that public health guidance should now be more explicit about the specific malformations associated with maternal smoking, in order to try and reduce the numbers of pregnant women who smoke.
Credit: hartphotography / Fotolia

Missing or deformed limbs, clubfoot, facial disorders and gastrointestinal problems are some of the most common birth defects found to be associated with smoking during pregnancy, according to a major new report led by scientists at University College London.

The study, published July 12 in Human Reproduction Update, is the first comprehensive review to identify the specific birth defects (malformations) most associated with smoking.

Despite public health advice which warns of the harms of maternal smoking, such as miscarriage and premature birth, in the UK 45% of women under 20 and 17% overall still smoke during pregnancy, according to the national figures (Office for National Statistics 2006). In the USA, 20% of women aged under 25 years smoke during pregnancy, compared to 9% among those aged over 35.

The authors examined a total of 172 research papers published over the last 50 years, which looked at a combined total of 174,000 cases of malformation alongside 11.7 million controls. The risk was increased by 26% for having a baby with missing or deformed limbs, 28% for clubfoot, 27% for gastrointestinal defects, 33% for skull defects, 25% for eye defects, and 28% for cleft lip/palate. The greatest increase in risk (50%) was for a condition called gastroschisis, where parts of the stomach or intestines protrude through the skin.

The research authors recommend that public health guidance should now be more explicit about the specific malformations associated with maternal smoking, in order to try and reduce the numbers of pregnant women who smoke.

Lead author Professor Allan Hackshaw, UCL Cancer Institute and member of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, said: "People may think that few women still smoke when pregnant. But the reality is that, particularly in women under 20, the numbers are still staggeringly high.

"Maternal smoking during pregnancy is a well established risk factor for miscarriage, low birthweight and premature birth. However, very few public health educational policies mention birth defects when referring to smoking and those that do are not very specific -- this is largely because of past uncertainty over which ones are directly linked.

"Now we have this evidence, advice should be more explicit about the kinds of serious defects such as deformed limbs, and facial and gastrointestinal malformations that babies of mothers who smoke during pregnancy could suffer from. The message from this research is that women should quit smoking before becoming pregnant, or very early on, to reduce the chance of having a baby with a serious and lifelong physical defect."

Co-author, Professor Charles Rodeck, UCL Institute for Women's Health, added: "The results of this research are of the greatest significance for the health of mothers and babies and for public health policy. If the recommendations are implemented, they will lead to a reduction in the incidence of several common malformations, and also to greater efficacy of smoking prevention programmes, as the warning of a birth defect adds weight to that of a small or premature baby."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Allan Hackshaw, Charles Rodeck, Sadie Boniface. Maternal smoking in pregnancy and birth defects: a systematic review based on 173 687 malformed cases and 11.7 million controls. Human Reproduction Update, 2011; DOI: 10.1093/humupd/dmr022

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Deformed limbs one of several birth defects linked to smoking in pregnancy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711195019.htm>.
University College London. (2011, July 12). Deformed limbs one of several birth defects linked to smoking in pregnancy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711195019.htm
University College London. "Deformed limbs one of several birth defects linked to smoking in pregnancy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110711195019.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


First-Ever Review Finds Smoking Causes Serious Birth Defects; March of Dimes Urges Women to Quit Smoking to Save Babies

July 12, 2011 The first-ever comprehensive review of 50 years of studies has established that maternal smoking causes serious birth defects including heart defects, missing/deformed limbs, clubfoot, ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins