Smoking during first trimester linked to birth defects

February 28, 2011 6:26:21 PM PST
A new report finds pregnant women who smoke in their first trimester have a 20 to 70 percent greater likelihood of having a baby with congenital heart defects -- the most common type of birth defect.

The study, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found a link between tobacco exposure and defects that obstruct the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs.

Based on those findings, doctors believe eliminating smoking early in pregnancy could prevent hundreds of cases of heart defects.