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Smoking Increases Risk of Webbed or extra Toes and Fingers – Cosmetic Surgery

January 12th 2006

Smoking Increases Risk of Webbed or extra Toes and Fingers – Cosmetic Surgery

Smoking Risks

There is a new reason for pregnant women to quit smoking.  According to a study authored by Dr. Benjamin Chang, of the University of Pennsylvania, smoking during pregnancy will greatly increase the risk of having a baby with toe or finger deformities. 

The study included 6.8 million births in the United States during 2001 and 2002. There were 5,171 children with either webbed or missing fingers or toes, and some children with extra toes or fingers, born to women that smoked during their pregnancy.  These mothers did not report other health factors including heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

According to Dr. Chang "The results of this study were interesting. We suspected that smoking was a cause of digital anomalies but didn't expect the results to be so dramatic."


Women who smoked one to 10 cigarettes while they were pregnant had a 29% greater risk of having a child with a finger or toe deformity.  As the number of cigarettes increases so did the risk.  Women that smoked 11 to 20 cigarettes per day increased their chances to 38%. Smoking more than 20 cigarettes per day raised the risk by 78%.

Dr. Chang went on to say “Smoking is so addictive that pregnant women often can't stop the habit, no matter what the consequences. Our hope is this study will show expectant mothers another danger of lighting up."

According to Dr. Chang, these are the most common abnormalities he treats.  Webbed toes or fingers occur once in every 2,000 to 2,500 live births in the US.  Extra or missing digits occur in one in 600 live births.


There are surgical procedures to correct some of these defects. According to the enotes website “the long and ring fingers or the second and third toes are most often affected. Generally, syndactyly repairs are done between the ages of six months and two years.”

According to Chang "Parents would ask why this happened to their child, but I didn't have an answer. This study shows that even minimal smoking during pregnancy can significantly increase the risk of having a child with various toe and finger defects."  The study appears in the January issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

Books on Cosmetic Surgery

Keywords and misspellings: cosmetic sergery sergury

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM