NEW YORK (CBS Atlanta) – Longterm exposure to second-hand smoke contributes to an increased risk of miscarriages, stillbirths or embryos developing outside the uterus, reports Live Science.

Researchers looked at data from 80,000 post-menopausal women to find out how exposure to tobacco may have affected their earlier pregnancies.

In the study, about 5,000 of the women were current smokers, about 35,000 were smokers in the past, and about 41,000  were non-smokers.

Out of the non-smokers, researchers focused on the women who had been exposed to second-hand smoke for 10 or more years, either as a child or adult.

Those women were 17 percent more likely to miscarry, 55 percent more likely to have a stillborn child and 61 percent more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy than women who were never exposed to second-hand smoke.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo is implanted outside the uterus and cannot survive.

The researchers say that their findings “suggest that lifetime second-hand smoke exposure contributes to a great number of adverse pregnancy outcomes each year.”

Studies show that there has been a 75 percent decrease in second-hand smoking in the U.S. from 1988 to 2002. The researchers say this corresponds to a 4 percent decline in miscarriages and an 11 percent decline in stillbirths during those same years, though they don’t rule out an increase in the quality of medical care for pregnant women.

The study appears in the journal Tobacco Control.

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