February 13, 2010 - Inhaling other people's tobacco smoke can have a serious impact on a developing baby, scientists have confirmed, sounding a new alarm for mothers-to-be.
Canadian scientists pooled the results of 76 independent studies, conducted around the world, which had sought to probe different aspects of the impact of passive smoking on a developing child. It totalled to a sample group of 48,500 women who had been exposed to environmental tobacco smoke during their pregnancy and a comparable group of almost 91,000 women who had not.
Passive smoking during pregnancy carries many of the risks associated with active smoking, this major review of the scientific literature has found. The Canadian study found women exposed to environmental tobacco smoke had "increased risks of (having) infants with lower birth weight, congenital anomalies, longer lengths, and trends towards smaller head circumferences".
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia said it was further evidence of the impact of passive smoking, and of the need to continue to roll out legislated smoke-free spaces for people who don't have the bad habit. "This new study shows babies are not just at risk if their mother smokes, but also if she's exposed to the smoke of others at work, home or public places," ASH chief executive Anne Jones said in a statement on Friday. "Pregnant women are most at risk in licensed and entertainment venues, such as pubs, clubs and casinos and any other workplaces where legal requirements for safe, smoke-free workplaces are ignored."
Australia's major casinos continue to operate smoking-allowed "high-roller" rooms with government approval. "Some governments, including New South Wales (NSW), are still granting exemptions that allow staff and patrons including pregnant women to be exposed to tobacco smoke on a regular basis," Mrs Jones said. "Other high-risk public places include crowded outdoor dining and drinking areas, building entrances and transport waiting areas."
Smoking-related changes were evident across key indicators of the childrens' overall health, though duration of gestation and the number of pre-term deliveries were roughly the same.
Reference: Passive smoking also bad for baby: study, DANNY ROSE - Australian Associated Press (AAP), The Sydney Morning Herald, 2/12/2010.
A few related news briefs:
Pregnant women exposed to passive smoke greater chance of child will have respiratory distress..;
Kids apt to smoke if mom did while pregnant..;
Tobacco a threat to pregnant women and children in developing world...