"Reconstructive surgery to repair limb, toe and finger abnormalities in children represents a large portion of my practice it is the most common issue I treat," said Benjamin Chang, MD, ASPS member and study author. "Parents would ask why this happened to their child, but I didn't have an answer. This study shows that even minimal smoking during pregnancy can significantly increase the risk of having a child with various toe and finger defects."
Researchers examined the records of more than 6.8 million live births in the United States during 2001 and 2002, finding 5,171 children born with a digital anomaly where the mother smoked during pregnancy but did not suffer from other medical complications, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
The study authors discovered pregnant women who smoked one to 10 cigarettes per day increased the risk of having a child with a toe or finger deformity by 29 percent. The more a woman smoked, the higher the risk became. Women who smoked 11 to 20 cigarettes a day raised the risk 38 percent, and women who smoked 21 or more cigarettes per day raised the risk 78 percent.
Known as polydactyly, syndactyly and adactyly, these deformities are the most common congenital limb abnormalities. Polydactyly is the presence of more than five digits on the hands or feet. Syndactyly is having fused or webbed fingers or toes. Adactyly is the absence of fingers or toes.
Contact: LaSandra Cooper
American Society of Plastic Surgeons