Smoking during pregnancy linked to newborn heart defects

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(CNN) – It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health. Now researchers have found that women who smoke during their pregnancy may be putting their babies at risk for some serious problems.

Pregnant women who smoke not only put themselves at risk for developing dangerous health concerns, they also may be harming their unborn babies’ hearts.

A new study presented at the pediatric academic societies annual meeting in Vancouver, found pregnant women who smoked put their newborns at risk for developing congenital heart defects, and the more they smoked the higher that risk became.

Investigators looked at thousands of birth certificates and hospital discharge records from the state of Washington to determine if smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy could be linked to heart problems. They found newborns with heart defects were more likely than those without heart defects to have been born to mothers who smoked.

And age was a key factor. The data showed women 35 and older who smoked had a greater chance of having a child with heart problems such as defective valves and blood vessels, as well as holes in the wall of the heart chambers.

Researchers noted about 10 percent of women giving birth these days have reported smoking during pregnancy. Study authors say it’s a dangerous habit and suggest before a woman who smokes becomes pregnant, she seriously think about quitting.

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