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SMOKING, INFANT LIMB DEFECTS LINKED

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Women who smoke during pregnancy are 1 1/2 times more likely to have babies with limb defects than women who do not, Hungarian researchers said Thursday.

They wrote in the British Medical Journal that they had proved for the first time that smokers tend not only to give birth to low-weight babies and are more likely to miscarry but also that their babies are more likely to have limb defects."Smoking 10 or more cigarettes a day during the first trimester of pregnancy was significantly more common in the group with . . . hand or foot defects," the researchers, working at the National Institute of Hygiene in Budapest, said.

They studied more than 900 pairs of mothers and babies, concentrating on families with birth defects. Of the pairs, 537 involved babies with defects.

"Smoking during pregnancy was 60 percent more common among mothers of children with terminal transverse defect (an abnormality of the hands and feet)," they said.