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<b>Smoking Delays Pregnancy

Smoking Delays Pregnancy

October 31, 2001

LONDON (Reuters Health) - Women who continue smoking while trying to have a baby risk having to wait significantly longer to get pregnant, according to study findings released on Wednesday.

Researchers at the Institute of Health Sciences at Oxford University compared the time taken to conceive by 569 women smokers, ex-smokers and never-smokers.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Biosocial Science, show that on average women who continued to smoke while attempting to conceive took almost two months longer to conceive than non-smokers.

However, women who quit smoking a year before attempting to conceive were likely to get pregnant within a similar time period as non-smokers.

"The growing body of evidence that continuing to smoke while attempting to become pregnant may increase time to conception suggests that greater emphasis on this public health message is warranted," the researchers state.

"Current opinion on smoking cessation favours total abstinence rather than gradual reduction as the most effective means of quitting and the best means of harm reduction," they write.

Lead author Marcus Munafo from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's General Practice Research Group in Oxford added in a news release: "The risks of smoking during pregnancy are well documented, including higher infant mortality, the increased risk of the baby developing serious respiratory infection, and lower birth weights."

Many women may not know that quitting improves their chances of becoming pregnant, he said, even while they cut down on alcohol and adopt a healthier diet.

"This study shows that stopping smoking should be a part of this pre-conception routine," he said.

Source: Journal of Biosocial Science 2001;33.

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