Smoking During Pregnancy Raises Risk for Finger, Toe Deformities
Odds rise with number of cigarettes smoked per day, study finds
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking during pregnancy greatly increases the risk of having a baby with finger or toe deformities, according to a study covering more than 6.8 million births in the United States during 2001 and 2002.
The study identified 5,171 children with either extra, webbed or missing fingers and toes born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy. The mothers did not report other health risk factors such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Women who smoked one to 10 cigarettes a day during pregnancy had a 29 percent increased risk of having a baby with finger or toe deformities, the study found. Smoking 11 to 20 cigarettes a day raised the risk by 38 percent, while smoking 21 or more cigarettes a day raised the risk by 78 percent.
The study appears in the January issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
"The results of this study were interesting. We suspected that smoking was a cause of digital anomalies but didn't expect the results to be so dramatic," study author Dr. Benjamin Chang, of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a prepared statement.
"Smoking is so addictive that pregnant women often can't stop the habit, no matter what the consequences. Our hope is this study will show expectant mothers another danger of lighting up," Chang said.
In the United States, webbed fingers or toes occur in one of every 2,000 to 2,500 live births and excess fingers or toes occur in one in every 600 live births, the researchers said.
Chang said these kinds of abnormalities are the most common kinds of problems he treats.
"Parents would ask why this happened to their child, but I didn't have an answer. This study shows that even minimal smoking during pregnancy can significantly increase the risk of having a child with various toe and finger defects."
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