Most people know that smoking while pregnant is heavily frowned upon. But have you ever seen the actual effects it has on a fetus?
In a new study conducted by mother-infant interaction expert Nadja Reissland from Durham University, ultrasound images show the difference between unborn babies whose mothers smoke and ones whose don't.
Top: Fetus whose mother smokes. Bottom: Fetus whose mother does not smoke. (Photo Credit: Durham University)
The fetuses who were inhaling smoke can be seen grimacing and covering their eyes while the others never touch their faces.
Dr. Reissland monitored 20 women for the study, four of whom smoked an average of 14 cigarettes a day. The scans were taken at 24, 28, 32 and 36 weeks.
While it's been proved that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, respiratory problems and low birth weight, the results found by Dr. Reissland suggest that it also has a serious impact on mobility inside the womb.
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While facial movements seen in the babies whose mothers smoked are natural in the early stages, they typically slow down once the fetuses become familiar with their bodies. The results, therefore, imply that the development of the fetal nervous system is interrupted by smoke.
Dr. Reissland acknowledged that a sample size of 20 is too small for results to be considered conclusive, but experts hope the ultrasounds will convince women to lay off cigarettes while carrying a child.
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