A statistical analysis of 5.8m non-smoking rural Chinese women (2010-2016) has found that having a husband who smokes during pregnancy increases the chances of a spontaneous abortion by 15%. (2.92% of women with smoking husbands experience spontaneous abortions, compared to 2.38% of women whose husbands do not.)
The researchers conclude: “The importance of tobacco control, specifically pertaining to parental smoking, should be emphasised, and husbands should quit smoking when planning a pregnancy.”
Cigarette smoking, whether by the woman or the man, is one of the most important modifiable risk factors that influence pregnancy outcomes in China. 29 times as many men smoke as women in the country (55.7% v 1.9%) and with the ban on smoking in public places, there is more smoking in the home.
There remains an increased risk of spontaneous abortion even if a smoking husband gives up smoking before the pregnancy or in the early pregnancy, though if he does give up, the risk is 18% less.
This last finding suggests that the harmful effects of paternal smoking are not only through the woman passively smoking. Smoking can damage sperm.
Photo: tania_huiny. Creative Commons.
Wang L et al (2018), Paternal smoking and spontaneous abortion: a population-based retrospective cohort study among non-smoking women aged 20-49 years in rural China, Journal of Epidemiological Community Health