Whether we've ever been pregnant or not, we know that anything a pregnant woman eats, or any bad habits she has, directly affects the unborn child. So, it should come as no shock that smoking while pregnant causes serious damage.
Researchers from Durham University and Lancaster University studied the effects of smoking on fetuses between the 24th and 36th week of pregnancy. The study included 20 babies, 16 of which had non-smoking mothers, and four with smoking mothers. The mothers who smoked had an average of 14 cigarettes per day.
The researchers then released 80 ultrasound photos upon completion of the study, which show how the fetuses reacted to their mothers inhaling smoke. And what the ultrasounds found were truly horrifying.
Photo: Durham University
The fetuses whose mothers inhaled smoke covered their faces and moved their mouths more than usual (clearly attempting to escape from the fumes), as shown in the top row.
The researchers said, "Fetuses whose mothers were smokers showed a significantly higher rate of mouth movements than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a fetus during pregnancy."
The reason for the higher-than-normal mouth movements might be linked to the fetal nervous system. The study found that "Facial movements in particular did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as in fetuses of mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy."
Lead researcher, Dr. Nadja Reissland, commented on the findings, saying, "Our findings concur with others that stress and depression have a significant impact on fetal movements, and need to be controlled ... but additionally these results point to the fact that nicotine exposure per se has an effect on fetal development over and above the effects of stress and depression.
Though the researchers stressed that the findings in this particular study were part of a pilot study, and larger studies are needed to understand the relationship between smoking, depression, stress, and fetal development, it's well-known that smoking during pregnancy is risky.
Tell us something we don't know. It's obvious that smoking while pregnant is evident of poor judgment and is running the risk of the child being born with complications.
So, do yourself and your unborn child a favor, and quit.