New study analyses effects of passive smoking during pregnancy on newborns

A new study shows that newborns that have been exposed to nicotine from both active and passive smoking mothers show poor physiological, sensory, motor and attention responses.

Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to many different problems in infants like learning difficulties, attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity and even obesity. However, although the paediatric and obstetric disorders linked to tobacco during this stage are well defined, the effects on neonatal behaviour have not yet been studied in depth.

A new study headed by experts at the Behaviour Evaluation and Measurement Research Centre (CRAMC) of the Rovira i Virgili University and published in the 'Early Human Development' journal goes further and analyses the effects of passive smoking during pregnancy on the newborn.

The scientists evaluated the behaviour of 282 healthy newborns using the Neonatal Behavioural Evaluation Scale. This allows for interaction with the newborn in order to evaluate its behaviour and responses between 48 and 72 hours after birth.

From those mothers studied, 22% smoked during pregnancy and hardly 6% were exposed to passive smoking. Out of the smoking mothers, 12.4% had between 1 and 5 cigarettes a day; 6.7% had between 6 and 10 a day; and 2.8% had between 10 and 15 a day. None of them smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day.

"Newborns who have had intrauterine exposure to nicotine, whether in an active or passive way, show signs of being more affected in terms of their neurobehavioural development. This could be an indicator of pathologies, independently of sociodemographic, obstetric and paediatric factors," as explained to SINC by Josefa Canals and Carmen Hernández, the lead authors of the study.

The results reveal that those born to smoking and passive smoking mothers score low in their ability to inhibit stimuli that could alter the central nervous system. Furthermore, children of passive smoking mothers have poor motor development and those of smoking mothers have less ability to regulate behaviour and response in physiological, sensor, motor and attention terms.

"Health professionals should encourage future mothers and their families to eliminate or reduce tobacco consumption," states Canals, who outlines the importance of informing mothers on the effects of involuntary exposure to cigarette smoke in order to prevent direct damage to the foetus and infant development.

Smoking during pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy is one of the biggest yet changeable causes of illness and death for both mother and infant. Nonetheless, epidemiological studies show that between 11% and 30% of pregnant women smoke or are passively exposed to tobacco smoke.

When a pregnant woman smokes, nicotine concentrations in the foetus reach more than 15% of that of the mother. In Spain, 43.5% of women between 25 and 44 years of age smoke but this percentage during pregnancy falls to approximately 26.6%.

"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 foetal development," conclude Canals and Hernández.

Source:

Early Human Development

Comments

  1. Audrey Silk Audrey Silk United States says:

    Oh please.  This is what passes for science? A tiny 282 baby sample who are 2 to 3 days olds?? It's so blatantly clear that the cavalcade of so-called studies on so-called "secondhand smoke" is smoke of its own kind. What other issue rolls out -- like a conveyor belt -- new "studies" every day? All manufactured to find the next way to  coerce behavior through fear-mongering.  Each new "study" is like plugging any holes where there might still be some leaks (people still smoking).  We've gone from the ridiculous to the ludicrous.  The entire field of science suffers when it's prostituted for an agenda:  SmokER-free society.  Who is to believe anything anyone in the medical profession says anymore.

  2. dave copeland dave copeland United Kingdom says:

    In more rational times, before the anti-tobacco hysteria began in earnest, women who smoked continued to smoke and enjoy other normal pleasures of life without guilt during their pregnancies. Many even smoked during labor to help them relax and take the edge off their pain. If their doctors mentioned smoking at all, it would be to advise them to perhaps cut down if they were heavy smokers, something which most did intuitively because they didn’t “feel” like smoking as much.
    But pity the poor North American smoker today who becomes pregnant, because she will be told that if she continues to smoke at all (or have any alcohol or caffeine) during her pregnancy, she is putting her developing fetus at high risk of death or disability.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, as the following annotated bibliographies will show.

    Though there is considerable evidence showing that on average the babies of women who smoke during pregnancy weigh on average a few ounces less than babies of women who do not smoke and that the rate of low birthweight babies is somewhat higher for smokers, there is no credible evidence for the hyperbolic claims that the babies of smokers have a higher mobidity and mortality rate. Quite the contrary, the babies of women who smoke during pregnancy have a better survival rate ounce for ounce, a somewhat lower rate of congenital defects, a lower rate of Down’s syndrome, a lower rate of infant respiratory distress syndrome and a somewhat lower rate of childhood cancer than do the babies of non-smokers.

    Dr. Richard L. Naeye, a leading obstetrical researcher who studied more than 58,000 pregnancies, states unequivocally:

    “We recently found no significant association between maternal smoking and either stillbirths or neonatal deaths when information about the underlying disorders, obtained from placental examinations, was incorporated into the analyses. Similar analyses found no correlation between maternal smoking and preterm birth. The most frequent initiating causes of preterm birth, stillbirth, and neonatal death are acute chorioamnionitis, disorders that produce chronic low blood flow from the uterus to the placenta, and major congenital malformations. There is no credible evidence that cigarette smoking has a role in the genesis of any of these disorders.”

  3. Walt Cody Walt Cody United States says:

    And that clearly applies to the researchers (and anyone who buys their findings). Look. According to US gov't figures, in 1965, 51.9% of American men and 33.9% of American women smoked.  And no one was screaming at pregnant women not to, and "secondhand smoke" hadn't yet been invented.  Meaning one way or another, over half the babies born in 1965 were prenatally exposed to somebody's smoke. Nor are those percentages much different from the smoking rates of the parents of what later was known as The Greatest Generation.  The one that won WW2 and created an economic boom. Impaired as they must have been.

    So what do you want to believe? Actual history or bizarre propaganda?

    www.lungusa.org/.../Tobacco-Trend-Report.pdf

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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