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When a woman who smokes gets pregnant, she (rightly) gets the quit-smoking-now lecture from her OB (not to mention her mom, her friends, and likely a concerned stranger or two). After all, it is well known that maternal smoking contributes to low-birth-weight babies and preterm birth. But what about a smoking dad-to-be? Do OBs routinely ask about dad’s lifestyle habits? Maybe they should, according to a new study.
It has long been known that second hand smoke is harmful to children, but the study, released from the journal Pediatrics, has found that even in the womb, a child can be harmed by a father’s cigarette habit. The study looked at the body mass index (BMI) of 6,790 children of non-smoking women at ages seven and eleven. The children whose fathers smoked had higher BMIs than those whose fathers were non-smokers, suggesting that secondhand smoke somehow affected the children’s metabolism. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that shows that a dad’s behavior plays an important role in the health and mental wellbeing of his children.
More reasons to quit? Another study published in the same journal found that children of moms who smoked were more aggressive and likely to have rule-breaking behavior than their peers whose mothers who didn’t smoke. Though past studies have linked a mother’s smoking to hyperactivity, aggressiveness and other behavioral issues, this study was the first to account for socioeconomic levels, social factors and parental psychological factors. Since none of these other factors can be blamed, the results suggest that the harmful effects may take root even before the baby is born.
So, I think it's safe to say that when you start trying to have children (or when the pregnancy test reads positive), mom and dad should quit smoking together. No complaints from men, please. At least they don’t have to go cold turkey on coffee or give up sushi! Plus, quitting now may save his life, too.