Smoking During Pregnancy May Affect Baby's Fingers and Toes
There's one more reason not to smoke during pregnancy.
cigarette smoking increases the risk that her newborn may have extra,
webbed or missing fingers or toes, according to researchers at the
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Just half a
pack of cigarettes per day increases the risk to the baby by 29
percent, compared to non-smokers, although the overall risk of these
abnormalities in fingers and toes is relatively low.
develop very early in pregnancy, the effect may occur even before a
woman knows she is pregnant, the researchers said.
that the more a woman smoked, the higher the risk became that the baby
would have these defects," said study leader Dr. Benjamin Chang,
pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon at The Children's Hospital
of Philadelphia. Dr. Chang and co-author Li-Xing Man, M.Sc., both of
Children's Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed the
records of more than 6.8 million live births listed in the U.S.
Natality database from 2001 and 2002. It is believed to be the largest
study of its kind, covering 84 percent of U.S. births.
researchers divided the study population into four groups: non-smokers,
those who smoked one to ten cigarettes daily, 11 to 20 cigarettes
daily, and 21 or more per day. There was a statistically significant
dose-response effect, with increased odds of having a newborn with a
congenital digital anomaly with increased maternal cigarette smoking
smoked up to half a pack a day were 29 percent more likely to have
babies with digital anomalies and women who smoked more than a pack of
cigarettes a day during pregnancy were 78 percent more likely to have
babies with digital anomalies.
Of the total
6.8 million births, the researchers found 5,171 children born with
digital anomalies whose mother smoked during pregnancy. "Overall, the
likelihood of having a digital anomaly is relatively low, about one in
2,000 to 2,500 live births, and compared to other public health issues,
is a very small problem," said Dr. Chang. "Usually surgery can restore
full or nearly full function to children with these anomalies."
to develop between four and eight weeks of gestation and advance from a
tiny nub to nearly fully formed fingers and toes. Many women only
discover they are pregnant during this period.
digits are twice as likely to occur in boys and are more common in
Caucasians than African-Americans; more than five digits on hands and
feet is 10 times more common in African-Americans and only slightly
more common in boys.
of isolated congenital digital anomalies occur spontaneously without
any family history. The increased number of cases involving these
diagnoses in their own practices led researchers to investigate
environmental factors that might be associated with these conditions.
overall risk of having these defects is rather small, the increase in
risk posed by tobacco exposure has the potential to affect thousands of
children," he added.
"Health professionals should increase their efforts to remind women of the dangers of smoking."
of the study appeared in the January issue of "Plastic and
Reconstructive Surgery," the journal of the American Society of Plastic
Surgeons. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia pediatric research
program is among the largest in the country.
For more information visit www.chop.edu.