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27 November 2015 09:28
Over one in four pregnant women live with a smoker
Exposure to passive smoking increases the chances of pregnant women having their babies prematurely, a new study suggests.
Researchers say they found exposure to secondary smoke during pregnancy also makes it likelier that women will have smaller babies.
The team at the University of Bristol studied over 5,000 women who had a baby in the city over a two-year period.
They looked at how much carbon monoxide the women were exhaling during the early stages of pregnancy as well as details about their exposure to secondary smoke. They also took the women's age, ethnic background, weight and employment status into account.
The team found that non-smoking pregnant women that lived with people who smoked were likelier to have their babies sooner than those who did not have a smoker in their household.
While around one in seven women carry on smoking while pregnant, more than a quarter live with someone who smokes.
The findings offer more food for thought to busy mums-to-be, who can insure themselves while on holiday with a pregnancy travel insurance policy.
The research team say the impact on babies born to passive smokers is smaller than on those whose mothers smoke themselves. But they add that more pregnant women are affected by passive smoking.
Researcher Dr Rachel Ion says while most women are aware of the dangers posed by smoking during pregnancy, it appears more work is required to educate women, their families and their friends about the impact of passive smoking.
She adds that the findings suggest more should be done to implement measures designed to cut women's exposure to secondary smoke when they are pregnant.
Premature births are said to account for over a million deaths a year around the world with many of the babies who do survive facing long-term problems such as breathing difficulties, and cerebral palsy and costly healthcare.
The study has been published in the Reproductive Sciences online journal.
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