As it stands an estimated 17 per cent of women in England and Wales smoke whilst they are pregnant, many of whom do not realise they could be putting their unborn baby at a significant risk of birth defects.
According to the study findings (the studies analysed looked at maternal smoking and birth defects) there was a total of 174,000 cases of malformation and 11.7 million healthy births, suggesting that smoking increased the risk of many abnormalities.
The data showed that the risk of giving birth to a baby with missing or deformed limbs is 26 per cent higher for smokers, a cleft palette or lip is 28 per cent more likely, clubfoot 28 per cent more likely, skull defects 33 per cent more likely and eye defects 25 per cent more likely.
Lead researcher Allan Hackshaw believes that many women who keep up smoking when they are pregnant do not realise the risks are so significant.
He said: “There’s still this idea among some women that if you smoke the baby will be small and that will make it easier when it comes to the delivery.”
“But what is not appreciated is that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of defects in the child that are life-long.”
If you are a smoker who is either pregnant or trying for a baby then the safest option is to quit smoking as early on as possible to reduce any risks to your baby.
For information about how a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist could help you to quit, please visit our smoking cessation fact-sheet for more details, or alternatively use the search tool located on the homepage to find a professional in your area.
View the original BBC News article.