Not just pregnant women, even fathers-to-be who smoke can increase the unborn baby’s risk of developing congenital heart defects.
Congential heart (an abnormality in the heart that develops before birth) reportedly affects eight in 1000 babies born worldwide, and is the leading cause of stillbirth.
The study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, compiled evidence involving 137,574 babies with congenital heart defects and 8.8 million prospective parents, up to June 2018. All types of paternal smoking were associated with the risk of congenital heart defects, with an increase of 74 per cent for men smoking, 124 per cent for passive smoking in women, and 25 per cent for women smoking, compared to no smoking exposure.
“Fathers are a large source of secondhand smoke for pregnant women, which appears to be even more harmful to unborn children than women smoking themselves,” said Jiabi Qin, from Central South University in China, was quoted by PTI.
According to the researchers, this was the first review to examine smoking at different stages of pregnancy and the risk it poses in terms of congenital heart defects.
A woman’s exposure to secondhand smoke can be risky for the baby not only during all stages of pregnancy but even prior to becoming pregnant. “In fact, smoking in fathers-to-be and exposure to passive smoking in pregnant women are more common than smoking in pregnant women…Staying away from people who are smoking is also important. Employers can help by ensuring that workplaces are smoke-free,” Qin added.
In another study earlier, published in the journal Pediatrics, it was found that for pregnant women, smoking even one cigarette a day can double the chance of sudden unexpected death of the baby, be it during any trimester.