Maternal Smoking Not Linked to Congenital Malformations

However, slight increase in risk with use of nicotine substitutes in pregnancy

THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette smoking during early pregnancy does not appear to increase the risk of congenital malformations, according to a study in the January issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. However, the researchers did find a slightly increased risk in non-smoking women who used nicotine substitutes.

Maria M. Morales-Suarez-Varela, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Valencia, Spain, and colleagues studied data on 76,768 pregnancies and subsequent singleton births in the Danish National Birth Cohort (1997-2003), including 20,603 women who smoked tobacco during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The researchers found the smoking mothers were younger, weighed less, drank more alcohol and were less educated than the non-smoking mothers.

There was no increase in the prevalence of birth defects among children exposed to prenatal tobacco smoking compared to non-exposed children, the researchers found. But children born to non-smokers using nicotine substitutes ran a greater risk of birth defects (relative risk 1.61).

"Our results showed no increase in congenital malformations related to prenatal tobacco smoking," the authors write. "However, we identified an increase of malformations risk in non-smokers using nicotine substitutes. This finding needs to be replicated in other data sources."

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