A comprehensive study conducted by researchers from the University College London has once again warned the ill effects of smoking during pregnancy and said that the habit increases the risk of the baby suffering from a number of birth defects.
The researchers led by Professor Allan Hackshaw used data from more than 170 research papers published on the subject over the last five decades and looked into over 174,000 cases of malformation and found that smoking during pregnancy increased the risk of gastroschisis, a condition where in parts of the stomach or intestines protrude through the skin, by more than 50 percent.
Other conditions which were also affected by smoking included skull defects (33 percent), clubfoot (28 percent) gastrointestinal defects (27 percent), eye defects and cleft lip (25 percent). The study has been published in the online edition of the journal Human Reproduction.
"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", Professor Hackshaw said.