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Smoking 'raises baby defect risk'

Pregnant women who smoke are at significant risk of giving birth to a malformed baby, a study shows.

Researchers found that the risk of having a baby with missing or deformed limbs was 26% higher for women who smoked during pregnancy.

Meanwhile they were 50% more likely to give birth to a baby with gastroschisis, a condition which causes parts of the stomach or intestines to protrude through the skin.

The study, which looked at 174,000 cases of malformation, found that in most cases smoking increased the risk of defects by more than 25%.

Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were found to be 28% more likely to be born with clubfoot or a cleft lip or palate, while the risk of skull defects was raised by 33% and eye defects by 25%.

The study, which analysed 172 research papers from the last 50 years, has been published online in the journal Human Reproduction.

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Human Reproduction