Maternal Smoking Linked to Congenital Heart Defects

April 10, 2008

Women who smoke in the month before they become pregnant or at any time up to the end of the first trimester are more likely than their non-smoking counterparts to give birth to a baby with congenital heart defects, according to the results of a study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

THURSDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Women who smoke in the month before they become pregnant or at any time up to the end of the first trimester are more likely than their non-smoking counterparts to give birth to a baby with congenital heart defects, according to the results of a study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

Sadia Malik, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues conducted a study of 3,067 infants with non-syndromic congenital heart defects as well as 3,947 infants with no birth defects. The mothers of both groups gave information about pre-pregnancy and pregnancy smoking status as well as exposure to maternal home and workplace tobacco exposure.

Septal heart defects were more common among infants born to women who smoked from one month prior to conception up to the end of the first trimester compared to those born to women who did not smoke during this time, and the association was strongest among heavy smokers, the investigators found. Infants with right-sided obstructive defects were more likely to be born to women who smoked 25 or more cigarettes per day compared to non-smoking mothers.

"Additional investigation into the timing of tobacco exposure and genetic susceptibilities that could modify this risk will provide a more precise evidence base on which to build clinical and public health primary prevention strategies," the authors conclude.

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