Women exposed to second-hand smoke while pregnant are more likely to experience a stillbirth or have babies with birth defects, according to an analysis.
Stillbirth was 23 percent more common and birth defects were 13 percent more common among women who lived or worked with smokers, according to a report published in Pediatrics.
"Women need to be protected from passive smoke exposure before conception and throughout pregnancy," said Jo Leonardi-Bee, a professor at the University of Nottingham in England and one of the authors of the study, in an email to Reuters Health.
Although the increased risks of stillbirth and birth defects are not massive, she warned: "They are a lot larger in magnitude than one would anticipate if we believe that passive smoke only has one percent of the effect of active smoking."
Leonardi-Bee and her colleagues combined data from 19 studies that looked at the effects of sceondhand smoke on the rates of miscarriage, newborn death and birth defects.
The rates of miscarriage and newborn death were similar whether or not women were exposed to secondhand smoke, and when looked at individually, no single birth defect was linked to secondhand smoke. Only when the researchers pooled the data on all birth defects did they see an increased risk.
None of the women smoked while pregnant, but they breathed in secondhand smoke from colleagues or family members. In half the studies analyzed, fathers were the primary source of secondhand smoke.
Other medical experts said that the research confirmed what many doctors have assumed about the risks of secondhand smoke, though the findings did not prove that tobacco smoke causes birth defects or stillbirths.
Even if it did, it was unclear if this was due to the mother inhaling the father's secondhand smoke or if his smoking was affecting his sperm.
Stephen Grant of Magee-Womens Research Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who wasn't involved in the study, said he was most intrigued by the association between secondhand smoke and birth defects.
"What we have here is that it's possible all the chemicals in tobacco smoke could have some effect on development," he told Reuters Health.
'Meetings happened. Action didn’t,' says Medecins Sans Frontieres report.
WHO said that on many levels, the world is better prepared now than ever before for aflu pandemic
Myanmar health officals say an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Mandalay
Tokyo Electric said it has been aware since last spring that radiation levels in water running in one of the plant gutters rise when it rains
Safe drinking water is available at about one-third of the level it was before the conflict erupted nearly five years ago, and supplies are cut-off to punish civilians at times
Elephants in Angola, which suffered decades of civil war, have been observed avoiding heavily-mined areas, suggesting their trunks were warning them to stay away.
Favipiravir halved death rate among some to 15 pct, but WHO says more research required on drug
The first medicine containing stem cells to treat a rare condition caused by burns to the eye has approved.
940 parasite samplescollected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar and its border regions. They found that almost 40 percent of the samples had mutations in their so-called kelch gene, K13 -- a known genetic signal of artemisinin drug resistance.
Yaws is known to be prevalent in 12 countries in areas where people have little access to healthcare, mainly in West and Central Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
In the past few years, Nepal has seen the numbers of endangered species, such as the Royal Bengal tiger or the one-horned rhino, rise.
The investment would represent as little as 0.1 percent of current national health spending of the low and middle-income countries affected by NTD.
Nearly 1,000 abandoned California sea lions have washed ashore this year in what rehabilitation centers say is a growing crisis for the animals.
West Africa cases of Ebola show the first decrease in three weeks.
"Marijuana fools the brain's feeding system."scientist Tamas Horvath said.
The Department of Health (DOH) announced that a Filipina nurse who recently arrived in the country tested positive for the MERS Coronavirus.