Consequences of Pregnancy Smoking

11.18.10 Study finds women who were heavy smokers while preggers are more likely to have children who grow up to have arrest records.

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We all know that smoking is bad for unborn babies—that's nothing new. But a recent study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health adds another layer of meaning to the word "bad" in that statement, The Los Angeles Times reports.

A study by researchers at Harvard and Brown universities has found that men and women born to mothers who smoked one pack or more per day during their pregnancies were more than 30 percent likely to have been arrested later in life, according to the L.A. Times report.

Researchers examined the health records of almost 4,000 pregnant women in Rhode Island between 1959 and 1966; then the criminal records of their children were analyzed in 1999 and 2000. In the findings, the experts also determined that the children of heavy smokers were almost 50 percent more likely to become repeat offenders.

One slightly positive finding noted in the study: Moms-to-be who smoked heavily while expecting did not raise the chances of their children growing up to become violent criminals. In addition, the link between heavy smoking in pregnancy and future criminal activity of children held up across all socio-economic lines.

Because of the link to birth defects, miscarriage and other problems, you should avoid tobacco and other toxins while pregnant—not to mention when you're breastfeeding. Smoking cigarettes, for example, decreases the oxygen flow to your baby. Plus, it can lead to preterm birth and other complications.

Talk to your doctor, who can offer advice and support, as well as refer you to a cessation program like the Great Start Quitline (866-66-START), which helps pregnant women stop smoking.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.