BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Friday, 29 September, 2000, 00:28 GMT 01:28 UK
Passive smoking 'may harm fertility'

Passive smoking damages health
Second-hand smoke could be damaging a woman's ability to become pregnant, say researchers.

The study of 8,500 couples carried out by Bristol University found a non-smoking woman exposed to smoke in the workplace was 14% less likely to be able to conceive within a year.

If her partner smokes more than 20 cigarettes a day, the odds of delayed conception were 34%.

The research, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, is one of the first to suggest even passive smoking can affect female fertility.

One of the authors, Chris Ford, said: "It has been known for many years that women who smoke whilst trying to get pregnant decrease their chances of conceiving.

"The results of our study provide more compelling reasons for couples trying to start a family to give up smoking themselves and avoid public places where smoking is allowed."

Male problems

Another finding of the study, informally known as the "Children of the Nineties" project, was that male smoking harmed a man's ability to father children.

The study results were all adjusted for other factors which might affect fertility, such as age, obesity and level of education.

Clive Bates, a director of Action on Smoking and Health, said: "What we are seing is just how insidious passive smoking is - it's a really nasty thing to do to somebody else."

Animal studies have suggested passive smoking while pregnant reduces the birthweight of the child, which can lead to other subsequent health problems.

It is also well-established as a health risk for any person, with a risk of developing lung cancer, and a much greater risk of suffering heart and circulation problems.

No-one is sure why passive smoke should affect female fertility, although a slight "thickening" of the blood may have some influence.

Another Bristol-based researcher, armed with the study results, found four out of five questioned in a survey were in favour of a ban on smoking in public places should be fertility damage be confirmed.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

17 Aug 99 | Health
Passive smoking stroke risk
11 Feb 00 | Health
Passive smoking risk 'overstated'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories