Friday, March 18, 2011

New Study Links Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy to Congenital Heart Defects in Infants

The journal Pediatrics published a new study titled, "Maternal Smoking and Congenital Heart Defects in the Baltimore-Washington Infant Study," which found maternal smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy increased the risk the baby would be born with congenital heart defects by 20 - 70 percent. A congenital heart defect is a condition some babies are born with which decreases the heart's ability to work well. These birth defects are the most common types of birth defects and make up for 30 percent of infant deaths as a result of birth defects every year. This new study shows how critical it is that a woman trying to get pregnant quit smoking. Quitting smoking before or very early into the pregnancy, the CDC says in a press release, "could prevent as many as 100 cases of right ventricular outflow tract obstructions and 700 cases of atrial septal defects each year in the US."

"Quitting [smoking] is the most important thing a woman can do to improve her health as well as the health of her baby," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D. M.P.H. in the CDC press release.

Today, nearly 40,000 infants are born with congenital heart defects in the US every year and in 2004, hospital costs for these defects were $1.4 billion, according to the CDC.

If you are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant and need help to quit smoking, click here for the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation's  First Breath program.

You can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit the Wisconsin's Quitline site by clicking here.

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