Smoking During Pregnancy May Harm Your NewbornSmoking and tobacco consumption has always been under the scanner of health experts for posing a threat to your overall well-being to causing fatal diseases like lung and esophageal cancer. (Smoking may lead to excess calorie intake)
Science has agreed to the same and various studies have shown that excessive smoking is also linked to psychological problems and can make a person more susceptible to risk of committing suicide.
A recent study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, explains how smoking can have adverse effects on pregnant women. The study holds that smoking during pregnancy can be extremely unhealthy for the mother as well as the child. Smoking during pregnancy has been associated with causing various health related and behavioral problems in the newborn. The probable health risks include asthma, behavioural problems, nicotine addiction, etc.
A team of researchers at The Miriam Hospital, Rhode Island tried analyzing the effects of smoking on pregnant women as well their newborn babies. According to the experts, babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy may find it difficult to cope with stressors of daily life later due to an alteration in DNA of a gene that regulates passage of stress hormones from mother to foetus. Not only this, the team also noted how babies born to such women may be smaller than the average babies and are more likely to be premature. Such babies might also be susceptible to other post-birth medical complications.
“Our results suggest that these newborns may not be mounting adequate hormonal response to daily stressors,” said the lead researcher Laura Stroud.
“Their stress systems may not be prepared for the stressors of daily life,” Stroud added.
The study included 100 mother-newborn pairs from a low-income, racially and ethnically diverse sample. The women were examined on the basis of their nicotine levels and were interviewed to cover each day of their pregnancy. Post-delivery, the placentas were examined and DNA was analysed to look out for any variations in the glucocorticoid receptor.
The results showed that infants exposed to smoking showed lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol at baseline and in response to neuro-behavioural exams. The lowered cortisol responses were consistent across seven behavioural exams over the first month of life.
“Our results suggest that effects of smoking during pregnancy on infant stress response are explained by changes in DNA,” Stroud said.
“These alterations in stress hormones, stress response, and DNA may explain links between moms’ smoking during pregnancy and the risk for their children to have behaviour problems and nicotine addiction in later life,” Stroud concluded.