Childhood Smoke Exposure May Increase Miscarriage Risk

Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images
Last month's scientific revelation that secondhand smoke could potentially lead to a sum total of zero cat videos was pretty upsetting. But pets aren't the only ones at risk: A recent study shows that women who were exposed to secondhand smoke while growing up may be more likely to miscarry.
NY Mag reports that the study, which was conducted in China, found that nonsmoking women who lived with multiple smokers during childhood had a 20% greater risk of miscarrying than those who grew up with only other nonsmokers in their homes. The study analyzed data from more than 20,000 women over age 50 and was published in the journal Tobacco Control.
Advertisement
The researchers wrote: “Our findings support the enactment of stringent national smoke-free laws and strict enforcement in China, and promotion of smoke-free homes to protect children, as well as the need for campaigns to change social norms of smoking and passive smoking."
Although Reuters adds that a few other studies, all from the U.S., also point to a link between pregnancy loss and past exposure to secondhand smoke, it's worth noting that this particular study is certainly limited. Aside from being entirely focused on Chinese women living in China, it also relies largely on these women's memories — recollections of whom they lived with while growing up, and the smoking habits of those family members. Plus, the scientists had no way of determining how much secondhand smoke the women were exposed to in day-to-day life during their pregnancies.
Bottom line: Of course, if you're pregnant or are trying to conceive, steer clear of those cigarette-strewn bar patios and that one entrance to your office where the smokers all congregate (I'm looking at you, Barclay Street). But don't stress too much trying to remember how many times you saw your mom bum a cigarette from your aunt in 1994. Because miscarriage, like the rest of the pregnancy process (and countless other crazy things our bodies do), is largely out of our control.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
Advertisement