A 2011 study revealed that smoking during pregnancy could result in babies being born with deformed limbs or facial disorders.
According to the study, which was published in the journal Early Human Development, smoking while pregnant has been associated with a large number of medical problems among infants, including attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD), and obesity.
Although experts know what the negative impacts of tobacco exposure during pregnancy are, nobody is yet certain what the health consequences might be for the newborn babies.
The recent trial, conducted by researchers at the Behavior Evaluation and Measurement Research Centre (CRAMC) at Rovira i Virgili University, examined the effects on newborns from passive smoking while their moms were pregnant.
During the study, the experts analyzed, by use of the Neonatal Behavioral Evaluation Scale, the behavior of 282 healthy newborns. This method makes it possible for the researchers to examine the responses and behavior of the babies 48 to 72 hours after the babies are born.
22% of the mothers studied admitted to smoking while pregnant, while 6% said they were exposed to "passive smoking.
Of the smoking mothers:
- 12.4% smoked between 1 and 5 cigarettes per day
- 6.7% smoked between 6 and 10 cigarettes per day
- 2.8% smoked between 10 and 15 cigarettes per day
- none of them smoked over 15 cigarettes per day
"Newborns who have intrauterine exposure to nicotine, whether in an active or passive way, show signs of being more affected in terms of their neurobehavioral development. This could be an indicator of pathologies, independently of sociodemographic, obstetric and pediatric factors."
The findings of the study indicate that babies born to passive smoking and smoking mothers had low scores when it came to their capability to inhibit stimuli which could change the central nervous system.
The researchers also found that the babies whose mothers were passive smokers do not develop motor skills as well as other children. The newborns of smoking mothers do not have the ability to regulate their behavior when it comes to sensor, motor, attention, or physiological responses.
Canals continued: "Health professionals should encourage future mothers and their families to eliminate or reduce tobacco consumption.
The report highlights that smoking while pregnant is a huge concern, although one that is changeable. It can cause death for babies, as well as mothers. The researchers say that between 11 and 13% of pregnant women are smokers, or they are around smoke regularly.
Canals and Hernández conclude:
"However, although women tend to reduce their normal tobacco consumption when falling pregnant, the key is to study the effects of exposure to small amounts of smoke on fetal development."
Written by Christine Kearney