Smoking is a very addictive habit and many pregnant women fail to stop the habit during their pregnancies, thinking that nothing would go wrong. A new study about the effects of maternal smoking proves just the opposite.

Researchers have found that maternal smoking increases the risks of finger and toe abnormalities, ranging from the presence of extra digits in either the arms or feet to webbed or missing toes and fingers. Smoking 1- 10 cigarettes a day carries 29% risk of finger or toe abnormality. If the number of lighted cigarettes went beyond 10, the risk would get higher as well, up 78%.

The incidence of webbed fingers is approximately 1 in 2000 to 2500 live births and is particularly high among the Caucasian population while the incidence of extra digits in arms or feet is more common among individuals of an African American descent. It has been known that these defects are multifactorial, and caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

This study shows that one of the environmental and high risk factors was maternal smoking and researchers are hoping that future mothers will think twice before putting their children into such jeopardy.