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Secondhand smoke is linked with pregnancy loss, including miscarriage, stillbirth and tubal ectopic pregnancy, according to new research from scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo.

The study findings, recently published online by the journal Tobacco Control, mark a significant step toward clarifying the risks of secondhand smoke exposure.

“This study demonstrated that pregnancy outcomes can be correlated with secondhand smoking. Significantly, women who have never smoked but were exposed to secondhand smoke were at greater risk for fetal loss,” said the study’s lead investigator, Andrew Hyland, chairman of Roswell’s Department of Health Behavior.

While there was previously some evidence that smoking during pregnancy was associated with the three outcomes of fetal loss – miscarriage (loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of gestation), stillbirth (loss of a fetus after 20 or more weeks of gestation) and tubal ectopic pregnancy – such evidence for secondhand smoke exposure had been limited.

The local study considered lifetime secondhand smoke exposure, rather than only during pregnancy or reproductive years, and compared this group of never-smokers with no lifetime secondhand smoke exposure. Lifetime details were collected from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, allowing for a study group of nearly 81,000 women.