New studies released by researchers at Durham and Lancaster Universities, have revealed more notable effects of smoking whilst pregnant.
The four-dimensional scans were taken of twenty foetuses, in order to assess the subtle movements made by un-born babies in the womb. Out of the twenty women scanned, four were smokers averaging 14 cigarettes a day.
Taken at four different intervals between 24 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, the foetuses – whose mothers were smokers, showed a significantly higher rate of movement than is expected of a foetus during pregnancy.
Researches stated that a reason for this could be linked to the foetal central nervous system – which controls general and facial movements, not developing at the same rate and manner as foetuses in mothers who were not exposed to nicotine and the harmful effects of smoking.
Author Dr Nadja Reissland, from Durham University’s Department of Psychology, said: “…additionally these results point to the fact that nicotine exposure per se has an effect on foetal development over and above the effects of stress and depression.”
Co author Professor Brian Francis of Lancaster University, added: “Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the foetus in ways we did not realise. This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”
The researches have stressed that these studies are pilot studies and further investigation is needed to provide conclusive evidence towards the full effects of smoking during pregnancy. In further studies, the fathers’ smoking habits will be taken into consideration also.
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