Cigarettes often contain a number of chemical additives in addition to shredded tobacco. Though cigarette smoke exposure has been linked to lung and heart disease, it was unclear how the smoke would affect a developing fetus.
Now researchers out of Newcastle University have identified another potentially devastating effect due to cigarette smoke exposure: a decrease in female fertility.
Scientists exposed both pregnant mice and newborn mice to a number of the chemicals commonly found in cigarettes.
Researchers found that even small doses of the chemicals altered both the ovaries and eggs of female mice.
As a result of exposure, up to ⅓ of the eggs disappeared, while the remaining eggs became abnormal and were found to have DNA damage. These abnormalities could make it difficult to conceive.
These results suggest that a mother’s choice to smoke cigarettes could affect the fertility of her unborn daughters.