Smoking women put their unborn babies at a considerably greater risk, says a new study.
The study at the University of Nottingham suggests that if expecting mothers quit smoking before or even during pregnancy, they can reduce these risks.
Professor Broughton Pipkin, lead researcher and Professor of Perinatal Physiology at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the School of Human Development, conducted the study on 1001 white Western European women with moderate to severe pre-eclampsia and their babies.
"Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are the second most frequent cause of death in pregnancy in this country and cause an estimated 70,000 deaths worldwide among pregnant women each year," he said.
The findings revealed that 34.8 per cent women were more likely to deliver prematurely (before 34 weeks), 46.1 per cent delivered much lower birth weight babies and 65.6 per cent produced babies who experienced adverse outcomes than women who don't smoke.
Pipkin said: "Although a recent article suggested that smoking in pregnancy is less damaging to the unborn baby than commonly supposed, GOPEC argues that smoking can make a bad situation worse for both mother and baby in pre-eclampsia. However, stopping smoking limits the damage."
"I feel very strongly that pregnant women should be encouraged as actively as possible to stop smoking, and this paper provides yet more reasons why," he added.
The study appears in the journal Hypertension.