When Fathers-To-Be Smoke, Risks of Stillbirth and Birth Defects Rise

It’s long been recommended that mothers-to-be quit smoking to reduce risks of pregnancy complications and birth defects, but new research indicates that fathers-to-be should drop the cigarette habit as well, the BBC News reported.When pregnant women are exposed to smoke at work or at home, even if they do not smoke themselves, their risk of stillbirth increases by 23 percent and their risk of having a baby with defects increases by 13 percent.

Researchers from the University of Nottigham pulled together results from 19 previous studies from around the world that focused on women who did not smoke but were passive smokers due to their proximity to a partner or colleagues at work who smoked.

The data indicated that being exposed to more than 10 cigarettes a day can increase the risks even further.

However, there seemed to be no increased risk of miscarriage or newborn death from second hand smoke, and no link with any specific congenital birth defect.

Previous research has shown that babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are at risk for a number of health problems, including low birth weight, premature birth and a range birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot and heart problems.

“What we still don’t know is whether it is the effect of sidestream smoke that the woman inhales that increases these particular risks or whether it is the direct effect of mainstream smoke that the father inhales during smoking that affects sperm development, or possibly both,” said Dr. Jo Leonardi-Bee, lead researcher of the study and associate professor in medical statistics at the University of Nottingham, about the results of the study.

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