The first feces babies pass is called meconium. Researchers have revealed tobacco metabolites passed out of the body via meconium can measure the amount of cigarette smoke or tobacco smoke mom consumed or came in contact with during pregnancy.

Research involved testing meconium samples from 337 babies. According to the test results, the amount of smoke ingested during pregnancy can be directly measured thus bringing to light how much smoke the fetus came into contact with while in utero.

Infants born to women who chose to smoke during pregnancy tested much higher than women who ingested second-hand smoke. Serum tobacco levels resulted in a better test result, but meconium could be tested for other environmental pollutants like bisphenol A.

Smoking during pregnancy is linked to fetal health risk and long-term effects after birth. Risk of stillbirth, premature delivery, congenital heart defects and low-birth weight are often associated with smoking during pregnancy. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy reduce the risk of stillbirth by 11% with an overall reduction in newborn deaths of 5%. Depending on the concentration of second-hand smoke, many of the same risks may be associated with working in a situation or workplace where employees are allowed to smoke. Contact with smoke should be limited severely during pregnancy.

Source: Joe M. Braun, Julie L. Daniels, Charlie Poole, Andrew F. Olshan, Richard Hornung, John T. Bernert, Yang Xia, Cynthia Bearer, Dana Boyd Barr, Bruce P. Lanphear. Environmental Health. 27 August 2010.

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