We already know smoking while pregnant is big no-no as it can harm an unborn baby’s development.
Now, we’re able to see just what that harm looks like with new ultrasound images that show how babies of mothers who smoke react to the behavior.
Dr. Nadja Reissland of Durham University, who led the study, used 4-D ultrasound scan images to capture thousands of movements in the womb while monitoring 20 mothers. Four of these mothers smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day.
Dr. Reissland studied the scans at 24, 28, 32, and 36 weeks and found the babies whose “mothers smoked continued to show significantly higher rates of mouth movement and self-touching than those carried by non-smokers,” according to Daily Mail.
This type of behavior is typically exhibited in babies who are younger and less developed, as babies closer to birth-time typically have much more control over these types of movement. These images indicate a stunt in the development of these children’s central nervous systems during gestation.
“Technology means we can now see what was previously hidden, revealing how smoking affects the development of the fetus in ways we did not realize” said co-author Professor Brian Francis, “This is yet further evidence of the negative effects of smoking in pregnancy.”
Researchers hope these images that provide a clear picture of some of the negative effects of smoking will encourage mothers to kick the habit before it’s too late.
The study was published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.