Pregnant women who smoke expose child to cancer

January 13th, 2009 - 12:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 13 (IANS) A pregnant woman who smokes increases the child’s risk of developing cancers, according to the latest evidence.New research by the Cancer Institute of New South Wales has provided the strongest indication that smoking during pregnancy also causes lower birth weight, premature birth and the baby’s potential hospitalisation in a neonatal intensive care unit.

“Through this new research we have credible evidence that these known birth complications associated with smoking during pregnancy could also increase the risk of childhood cancers,” said Jodi McKay, deputy minister for health (Cancer).

The Cancer Institute linked the records of all births in NSW between 1994 and 2005 with cases of cancer in NSW children over the same period. Of the 1.05 million recorded births, there were 948 cases of childhood cancer.

Leukaemia and cancers of the nerves and central nervous system were found to be more common in babies born prematurely and in those with a lower birth weight. Cancers were also more common in babies admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit.

Babies born with a low birth-weight have 1.7 times the risk of developing leukaemia and 1.8 times the risk of developing cancers of the central nervous system and brain cancers. Those born prematurely are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

Babies admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit are at the greatest risk of developing cancer. They are 2.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, and 3.7 more likely to develop cancer of the central nervous system and brain cancers, 4 times more likely to develop eye cancer and 5 times more likely to get kidney cancer, said a Cancer Institute release.

“Everybody knows that smoking causes cancer, stroke, heart disease and emphysema, but all mothers and mums-to-be should also understand the potential damage to a child caused by prenatal smoking.

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