Doctor Anna Gunnerbeck told the Uppsala newspaper UNT that using snus during pregnancy increased the risk of a child being born with a cleft palate. She said: "To use snus increases the risk of a cleft lip and cleft palate at least as much as smoking, which suggests that it may be the nicotine that can affect normal facial development."
Gunnerbeck added that women who had stopped using snus or quit smoking before their first visit to the antenatal clinic had no increased risk of having a child with a cleft lip and cleft palate.
The Swedish study analyzed data from more than 975,000 children from the Medical Birth Registry, of which 1,761 were born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. The study was published in the science journal Plos One.
Pre-portioned bits of shredded tobacco, snus looks like little teabags that users put between their cheek and gum. Under an EU agreement, Sweden cannot export or sell snus within the Union.