In the study involving 4,800 non-smoking women, the researchers found that those who were exposed to second hand smoke six or more hours per day as children and adults were at a greater risk of having difficulty getting pregnant and suffering one or more miscarriages.
"These statistics are breathtaking and certainly points to yet another danger of second hand smoke exposure," said Luke J. Peppone, Ph.D., research assistant professor at Rochester's James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.
The research team found that four out of five women reported exposure to second hand smoke during their lifetime.
Half of them grew up in a home with smoking parents and nearly two-thirds of them were exposed to some second hand smoking at the time of the survey.
In addition, more than 40 percent of these women faced increased odds of infertility or suffered miscarriages, some repeatedly.
"We all know that cigarettes and second hand smoke are dangerous. Breathing the smoke has lasting effects, especially for women when they're ready for children," said Peppone, who analyzed information in the Patient Epidemiology Data System, a well-studied cohort that has yielded information on a variety of cancers.
The study is published online in Tobacco Control.