Cigarettes and impotence: an indestructible tie

Parents and prospective parents have been reminded about the dangers of smoking after the release of a British report that said smoking damaged almost all aspects of sexual, reproductive and child health.

The British Medical Association report says smoking causes up to 5000 miscarriages and 1200 cases of cervical cancer in Britain every year. The report, Smoking and Reproductive Life, also links smoking with fertility problems, saying that about 120,000 men aged 30-50 are impotent because of smoking. Australian health experts and anti-smoking campaigners said the BMA report highlighted many harms linked with smoking, and called for governments to develop more mass-media advertisements and information campaigns.

In Australia, about 58,000 babies a year are born to mothers who smoked during their pregnancy, and about 23 per cent of pregnant or breastfeeding women were smokers. According to Quit, smoking during pregnancy accounts for a third of sudden infant death syndrome deaths, 9 per cent of miscarriages, 23 per cent of low birthweight babies, and 9 per cent of stillbirths, informs &to=' target=_blank>THE AGE

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA, said: "The scale of damage smoking causes to reproductive and child health is shocking. Women know they should not smoke during pregnancy, but the message needs to be far stronger. Men and women who want to have children should bin cigarettes. Men who want to continue to enjoy sex should forget about lighting up, given the strong evidence that smoking is a major cause of male sexual impotence."

Women who smoke reduce their chances of becoming pregnant by up to 40 per cent per cycle. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have a low-birthweight baby. Smoking also increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and malformations such as cleft lip.

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