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 Hernndez, 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.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology