Put it out for baby, it's never too late says medic
Even if a mother has smoked, stopping smoking when she falls pregnant should mean her baby suffers no ill effects according to a recent report from the University of Southampton.
Professor Nick Macklon, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Southampton told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology about the results of his study into more than 50,000 pregnancies.
Risks associated with smoking in pregnancy are low birthweight, premature birth and the risks that are associated with that, including brain damage and cleft lip.
The study looked at seven groups of women - non-smokers, those who had stopped more than a year prior to conceiving, those who had stopped less than a year prior to conceiving, smokers who stopped once the pregnancy was confirmed, and those who continued to smoke up to 10 a day, between 10 and 20 a day, and more than 20 a day.
The results were adjusted for a number of other factors that can affect birth outcomes and found that stopping at the start of pregnancy has beneficial effects.
"Not only was birthweight much better in this group than it was in the groups where the mothers had continued to smoke, but we also found that the babies reached the same gestational age and head circumference as those born to women who had never smoked," said Professor Macklon.
"While a recent study has shown that the rate of pre-term and small-for-gestational-age births can be reduced by stopping smoking before the 15th week of pregnancy, our research goes much further. We can now give couples hard evidence that making the effort to stop smoking in the periconceptional period will be beneficial for their baby."
Professor Macklon warned mothers to be of the dangers of deliberately continuing to smoke to try for a smaller baby and an easier birth.
"It is important that people who believe that a smaller baby means an easier birth take into account the increased risks of complicated deliveries in smokers," said Professor Macklon, "as well as the risk of disease later in life which goes with low birthweight. Smoking during pregnancy is not just bad for the mother and baby, but for the adult it will grow into."
Professor Macklon now intends to examine the impact of smoking on fertility.
Top Image Credit: © Marc Dietrich