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Smoking while pregnant 'causes thyroid damage'

Further dangers of smoking while pregnant have been highlighted.
A new study has revealed that smoking during pregnancy alters the thyroid hormones in both the mother and the baby.

Researchers at the Peninsula Medical School at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in the United Kingdom measured thyroid hormone levels in the umbilical cords of babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy.

They found that smoking-related changes in thyroid function extended to the foetus and the researchers warned that impaired thyroid function could have a potentially harmful biological impact.

Lead author Dr Bijay Vaidya said: "We studied the influence of cigarette smoking on thyroid function of two groups of women at different stages of pregnancy - one in the first trimester and the other in the third trimester.

"In both groups we found that smoking during pregnancy is associated with changes in the mothers' thyroid hormone levels."

Dr Vaidya explained that optimal maternal thyroid function during pregnancy is vital because thyroid dysfunction may result in adverse outcomes including increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and impaired neuropsychological development of the baby.

On a positive note, the study did find that the effects of smoking on thyroid function are rapidly reversible as mothers who stopped smoking during their pregnancy had thyroid hormone levels which were comparable to those of non-smokers.

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